Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Mental-health courts prove useful in U.S.

Mental-health courts aim to move people with a serious mental illness out of the criminal-justice system and into community treatment. The courts were first set up in the U.S. in 1997 and now there are around 250 of them. Treatment is usually a condition of appearing before the courts which reserve the right to punish defendants if they do not comply with their terms. Researchers from Policy Research Associates in New York studied 1,047 people in California, Minnesota and Indiana. 447 went through the mental-health courts while 600 appeared before the mormal courts. Those people who participated in the mental-health courts were significantly less likely (49% vs 58%) to be arrested again, had fewer arrests per year (1.3 vs 2.0) and spent less days in jail (82 days vs 152 days).

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