Specialty Courts for Mental Health

Specialty courts for mental health, also known as mental health courts (MHCs), are problem-solving courts that are designed to engage defendants with mental illnesses in treatment rather than incarceration. From 1998 to 2003, the number of MHCs in the United States increased from fewer than 10 to more than 80. These courts are aimed at reducing criminal offending by persons with mental illness by diverting them from the criminal justice system into the community mental health system. These courts focus on problem solving to alleviate the underlying causes of offending instead of apportioning guilt and punishment.

Individuals referred to MHCs and other agencies present therapists with issues of confidentiality, allegiance, and client deception. Privacy becomes an issue of concern, as therapists may be called as witnesses ...

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