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Law Hum Behav. 2011 Oct;35(5):402-12. doi: 10.1007/s10979-010-9250-4.

Mental health courts and their selection processes: modeling variation for consistency.

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Center for Behavioral Health Services and Criminal Justice Research, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA.


Admission into mental health courts is based on a complicated and often variable decision-making process that involves multiple parties representing different expertise and interests. To the extent that eligibility criteria of mental health courts are more suggestive than deterministic, selection bias can be expected. Very little research has focused on the selection processes underpinning problem-solving courts even though such processes may dominate the performance of these interventions. This article describes a qualitative study designed to deconstruct the selection and admission processes of mental health courts. In this article, we describe a multi-stage, complex process for screening and admitting clients into mental health courts. The selection filtering model that is described has three eligibility screening stages: initial, assessment, and evaluation. The results of this study suggest that clients selected by mental health courts are shaped by the formal and informal selection criteria, as well as by the local treatment system.

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