12 Pages Posted: 17 Apr 2008
Date Written: 2008
It is estimated that 16% of U.S. inmates suffer from mental illness as compared to 5% of the general public (Ditton 1999). Nationally it is estimated that 72% of male inmates in urban areas suffer from mental illness and either an alcohol or a substance abuse disorder (Teplin, 1990). Individuals in the public mental health system may be four to five times more likely to become incarcerated, depending on gender (Cox et. al 2001). Inmates convicted of misdemeanors suffering from psychosis are likely to remain in jail up to 6.5 times longer than the typical inmate (Axelson and Wahl 1992). Suicide rates for inmates are estimated to range from 4.5 times to 7 times that of the general public (Ohio Department of Corrections 2002; Associated Press 2002). Incarcerating inmates with serious mental illnesses is roughly 60% more expensive than housing the typical inmate (Pennsylvania Department of Corrections). Based on these statistics, it is no wonder that mental health courts and jail diversion programs are emerging quickly as a means to combat jail overcrowding and recidivism rates. This study was conducted to inform mental health courts and jail diversion programs regarding criteria for admittance into a diversion program, existing court work loads, participant compliance, treatment and services, as well as funding. The results of this study are presented herein and applied to the Northern Kentucky Regional Mental Health Court (NKRMHC) project.
Keywords: mental health court, jail diversion, criminal justice
JEL Classification: K14, K42, H70, K32
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
By E. Johnston