Mental Health Courts and the “Revolving Door”

A three-year study of a Florida mental health court program found that the rate of recidivism dropped “significantly” after participants completed the court-ordered treatment program that the court offered as an alternative to jail.

The study’s authors, Julie Costopoulos and Bethany Wellman of the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) suggested that the findings demonstrate the effectiveness of collaborative courts in helping end the “revolving door” which cycles many mentally troubled individuals between jail and the streets:

“The ‘revolving door’ has been exhaustive of institutional resources, resulting in such a poor system of treatment that many argue that the system …treats offenders with mental health challenges to the extent that recidivism is inevitable,”

The study followed 118 participants in an unidentified Florida mental health court. Three months after release, 90% had not been rearrested. After six months, the number dropped to 81% remaining free of any charges; and three years after release, 54% had not recidivated.

Perhaps almost as significant, the study found that participants were typically re-arrested  for much lesser offenses than those which originally sent them to the mental health court.

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