Date of Paper

5-2013

Type of Paper

Clinical research paper

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (M.S.W.)

Department

Social Work

First Advisor

Michael G. Chovanec

Abstract

People with mental illness do not receive the services they need while incarcerated. This leads to a revolving door where mentally ill inmates are released from custody no better off than they were when they went in and they frequently reoffend, putting them back in the criminal justice system. One alternative to the traditional criminal courts is mental health courts, diversion programs that steer offenders away from incarceration. They seek to reduce recidivism by connecting mentally ill offenders with community services and bettering the lives of the participants. This research examined one specific mental health court. Interviews were conducted with various professionals working at the court to determine the impact of this program on participants. There were many major findings from this research. First, the professionals felt there were many benefits for participants that come from participation in the mental health court. Second, the professionals felt the community benefited from increased safety and reduced recidivism. Third, the professionals thought that the biggest challenge for participants in the mental health court was the amount of work involved in participation. Finally, the professionals felt that the mental health court would benefit from increased resources.

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