The current study examined the efficacy of a specialized mental health court in reducing recidivism for severely mentally ill defendants with comorbid substance use disorders. There is a wealth of research supporting the efficacy of mental health courts in reducing recidivism for those with severe mental illness; however, the benefit of these courts for individuals with severe mental illness and comorbid substance use disorders has received limited empirical attention. Participants were 514 defendants enrolled in either a traditional adversarial court or a specialized mental health court. Recidivism was assessed across different outcome variables, including frequency of reoffending, severity of new offenses, and length of time to reoffend. When compared to participants in the traditional adversarial court, enrollment in mental health court was associated with a greater length of time to rearrest and fewer participants were rearrested in the mental health court than the traditional court. Group differences between those with and without comorbid substance use disorders who were enrolled in the mental health court were not found across recidivism outcome metrics. Results of the current study are particularly promising given that defendants with substance use disorders are at a greater risk for reoffending.
Amanda E. Gallagher, Joye C. Anestis, Emily D. Gottfried, Joyce L. Carbonell
Psychological Injury and Law, June 2018, Volume 11, Issue 2