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The Effectiveness of Mental Health Courts in Reducing Recidivism and Police Contact: A Systematic Review.

  • Author(s): Loong, Desmond;
  • Bonato, Sarah;
  • Barnsley, Jan;
  • Dewa, Carolyn S
  • et al.

Mental health courts were created to help criminal defendants who have a mental illness that significantly contributes to their criminal offense. The purpose of this systematic literature review is to assess the current evidence to address the question, "How effective are mental health courts in reducing recidivism and police contact?" Systematic literature searches of eight electronic databases were performed. A total of 2590 unique citations were identified. Of these, 20 studies were included in the final analysis. The results of this systematic review suggest there is some evidence to show that mental health courts help to reduce recidivism rates, but the effect on police contact is less clear. Results also suggest case managers or access to vocational and housing services may be important components of effective mental health courts.

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