The second generation of mental health courts

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mental health courts, diversion


Mental health courts (MHCs) generally began to appear in 1997. Today, more than 80 courts exist in the United States. In the present article, the authors argue that the 2nd generation of MHCs has arrived. The authors compare 8 previously described courts (P. A. Griffin, H. J. Steadman, & J. Petrila, 2002) with 7 newer courts that have not been previously described in the psycholegal literature. The authors identify 4 dimensions distinguishing 1st- from 2nd-generation courts: (a) the acceptance of felony versus misdemeanant defendants, (b) pre- versus postadjudication models, (c) the use of jail as a sanction, and (c) the type of court supervision. The 4 dimensions are interdependent in that the acceptance of more felony cases contributes to the rise in processing cases postadjudication, using jail as a sanction and more intensive supervision. Potential reasons for the evolution of a 2nd generation are discussed.

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