An Evaluation of a Mental Health Court: Process, Procedure, and Outcome

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Title: An Evaluation of a Mental Health Court: Process, Procedure, and Outcome
Author: Gurrera, Marlee Moore
Advisors: Rodney Engen, Committee Member
Catherine R. Zimmer, Committee Member
Virginia Aldige, Committee Chair
Stacy DeCoster, Committee Member
Anne Schiller, Committee Member
Abstract: Mental health courts (MHC) have proliferated across the country since their establishment in the late 1990's. Although advocates have claimed their success, few empirical studies have evaluated MHCs outcomes. The purpose of this research was to conduct an evaluation of a mental health court. Qualitative and quantitative data were used to examine the causal linkages specified in the developed conceptual model through which MHC participation in one MHC was believed to operate in reducing recidivism. Qualitative data (observations, field notes, and semi-structured interviews) were used to examine court process and procedure, service utilization, defendant compliance, and defendant outcomes. Qualitative data were used as a link between defendant's participation in MHC and their recidivism as indicated in the developed conceptual model. The quantitative portion of this evaluation used a nonequivalent comparison group design with two samples of defendants, MHC subjects and traditional court subjects (TCC), with a one-year follow-up period. Qualitative findings shed light on the mechanisms within MHC operation that link MHCs to improved defendant outcomes. Further, these findings provided insight into MHC defendants' treatment compliance and the impact of treatment services on their lives. Last, results supported the prediction that this MHC successfully marshaled and provided treatment linkages for MHC participants. Multivariate and pre-test post-test analyses supported the prediction that MHC defendants had fewer arrests and when arrested had less serious offenses than TCC subjects during the follow-up period. Similar analyses of MHC completers and non-completers supported the hypothesis that a "full dose" of MHC treatment, monitoring, and supervision produced even better outcomes for MHC completers.
Date: 2007-04-13
Degree: PhD
Discipline: Sociology
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/3437


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