Patterns of practice in mental health courts: A national survey

Law Hum Behav. 2006 Jun;30(3):347-62. doi: 10.1007/s10979-006-9036-x.


Mental health courts (MHCs) represent an important new development at the interface of the criminal justice and mental health systems. MHCs are criminal courts for persons with mental illness that were in part created to divert this population from jail/prison into community treatment. MHCs are proliferating rapidly despite limited knowledge regarding their characteristics or their efficacy. We surveyed the entire population of adult MHCs in the United States, n = 90. In the past 8 years, MHCs have been created in 34 states, with an aggregate current caseload of 7,560 clients in MHCs nationally. Most courts (92%) reported using jail as a sanction for noncompliance, if only rarely. Further, jail sanction use was significantly predicted by increased judicial supervision and number of felons in the court. Implications for MHCs and social monitoring are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Mental Health Services / organization & administration*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians' / organization & administration*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States