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Behav Sci Law. 2014 Jul-Aug;32(4):539-51. doi: 10.1002/bsl.2126. Epub 2014 Jul 9.

Mental health diversion courts: a two year recidivism study of a South Australian mental health court program.

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School of Psychology, Deakin University, Australia.


The need to develop specialized judicial processes to deal with offenders with mental illnesses is now widely recognized and has led to the introduction of mental health court diversion programs around the world. At present, however, there is only limited evidence from which to assess the impact of these initiatives. This paper describes the South Australian model of diversion, with specific reference to the relationship between identified participant characteristics, program compliance rates, and re-offending outcomes. The results of a two-year recidivism study suggest that involvement with the program has a positive impact on recidivism, but that this is independent from the individual's level of success in the program. Lower risk offenders were more likely to achieve successful outcomes than those in the higher risk categories. The implications of these results, as well the factors that might inform the ongoing development of mental health court programs, are discussed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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