Debating outpatient commitment: Controversy, trends, and empirical data

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Involuntary outpatient commitment is one of the most controversial issues in mental disability law. The criminal justice system at all levels has had difficulty in responding to the growing number of defendants with mental illness and substance-abuse disorders. Outpatient commitment has been offered as a tool that might reduce recidivism and violence among at least some individuals—these outcomes are as important to criminal justice professionals as they are to mental health professionals. This article explores the debate regarding outpatient commitment, current state of research on its effect, and emerging policy issues in more recent outpatient commitment statutes.