Doing the recent NASC conference got me behind on my checking for the new stuff at Corrections Community, the NIC’s great resource blog, so I missed this post on a new evaluation of mental health courts which sounds promising:
A Bureau of Justice Statistics Special Report published in late 2006 documented the high incidences of mental health problems among prison and jail inmates. In addition, many persons with a history of mental health problems also have significant substance abuse or dependence issues. As an alternative to traditional prosecution and incarceration, special mental health courts were established with the goal of providing individuals convicted of non-violent, low level crimes with community-based treatment programs targeting mental illness and substance abuse. Since the establishment of four mental health courts in 1997, a number of jurisdictions have adopted this model. While there have been a few studies that have measured the performance of these courts, there have been none that addressed the fiscal impact. In a study funded by the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare and the Staunton Farm Foundation, conducted for the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the nonprofit research organization RAND, examined the diversionary and fiscal impact of mental health courts. Their study of the Allegheny County Mental Health Court in Pittsburgh, PA found that such courts have the potential to increase public safety and save taxpayers money.
I promise to keep up better in the future now that the conference is over.