What are the services provided by mental health courts? Mental health courts are criminal courts set up to deal with people who have mental health issues or learning disabilities who have committed crimes. Instead of putting these people in jail, mental health courts (MHC’s) look to enroll them in community treatment to deal with their mental health problems so that they will not commit crimes again. “MHC’s have been created in 34 states with a total of 7560 clients. (Redlich, 2006).” MHC’s were designed to treat people with mental health issues in jails and their families.
A team approach is taken in a MHC when deciding how to treat an offender. This team usually consists of the prosecuting attorney, defense attorneys, case manager, judge, and other treatment providers. MHC’s have a goal of keeping people with mental health issues out of jail and into community mental health treatment. It is thought that by treating the person’s illness, the offender will be less likely to re-offend and stay out of jail.Mental health courts work with community mental health services and require that the offender to take part in treatment, take medications prescribed by the therapists, and follow any conditions set up by the court in the offender’s treatment plan. MHC’s offer incentives to the offender to entice them to cooperate with the courts. The courts may offer to reduce or drop charges on an offender if they agree to, and complete treatment.
The court may also make a rule that the offender must find and maintain employment.The courts provide supervision of the offender by having review hearings where those involved in his or her treatment report the person’s progress. Depending on the person’s progress, they may receive praise for a job well done, or a sanction if it found that they are not participating in treatment. How do these services benefit the prisoners? A person who is mentally ill can benefit by going before a mental health court because the MHC , instead of just locking an offender up, works with mental health services in the community to ensure that the person is made well.
“The first goal of a MHC, is to get the offender back on the required medication. (OSBA, 2013)” Another benefit to the prisoner is that “moving the person from jail to a setting that will allow treatment frees up needed and expensive jail beds and lets the person begin to progress towards a healthy re-entry to the community. (OSBA, 2013)” Participants go to court regularly to review their progress and may be rewarded or punished depending on their progress.At the end of their program (usually 2 years), it is hoped that the person is stabilized on their medications and has learned the skills to stay a healthy, productive member of the community who no longer breaks the law. How do these compare to the services already available through the existing criminal justice system? According to the Department of Justice, “Many offenders with mental illnesses don’t receive treatment during incarceration.(Department of Justice, 2009)” A person who is arrested, and has mental health issues is usually treated like any other prisoner, except they are given the option of receiving their medications while in jail.
Because these offenders are usually not treated, their conditions usually get worse. The person becomes dangerous to themselves and others when they are released to the public. This is considered a threat to the community.
Do the research findings support the establishment of more mental health service programs to imprisoned mentally ill populations?According to a study in the American Journal of Psychiatry, “these findings provide evidence of the potential for mental health courts to achieve their goal of reducing recidivism among people with mental disorders who are in the criminal justice system. (Mcnied, D. , 2007) A person, who is mentally ill and treated instead of just being locked up, tends to get their meds straightened out and goes to counseling. This person is more likely to not re-offend and be a model citizen.It would be a good thing for communities if more mental health services were offered to mentally ill inmates.
References Addressing Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System (2009) Department of Justice: Justice Blog Retrieved from http://blogs. justice. gov/main/archives/431 CSG justice center primer on mental health courts. (2009). Psychiatric Services, 60(2), 275. Retrieved from http://search.
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(2007). Effectiveness of a mental health court in reducing criminal recidivism and violence.The American Journal of Psychiatry, 164(9), 1395-403. Retrieved from http://search. proquest. com/docview/220485453? accountid=34899 Mental Health Court Can Save Time, Money, and Lives.
(2013) Ohio State Bar Association Retrieved from https://www. ohiobar. org/forpublic/resources/lawyoucanuse/pages/lawyoucanuse-230. aspx Redlich, A. D. , Steadman, H.
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R. , & Petrila, J. (2006). Patterns of practice in mental health courts: A national survey. Law and Human Behavior, 30(3), 347-62. doi:http://dx. doi.