The Processing and Treatment of Mentally Ill Persons in the Criminal Justice System – A Scan of Practice and Background Analysis

Source: KiDeuk Kim, Miriam Becker-Cohen, Maria Serakos, Urban Institute, March 2015

….This report focuses on the societal and economic costs of holding mentally ill offenders in jails and prisons. It also presents a detailed discussion of how mentally ill offenders are processed in the criminal justice system, highlighting the diversity of protocols and practices outlined in state statutes to address these challenges.

Further, it discusses several promising criminal justice interventions and policies for mentally ill offenders, including the following:
• Diversionary mechanisms, such as mental health courts, that route mentally ill offenders to community-based mental health treatment programs instead of prison or jail
• Community-based reentry programs providing coordinated services and case management for mentally ill offenders transitioning into the community
• Policies that provide mentally ill offenders with increased access to medical and mental health care

After reviewing these promising interventions, the background analysis finishes with suggestions for future research and a discussion of the implications of our findings….