Module 4: Target Population
Module 4: Target Population helps new mental health court teams clearly define their target population in light of local priorities and resources.
- Understand the current state of research on who benefits from mental health courts
- Understand how local conditions can shape criminal justice and clinical eligibility criteria
- Analyze factors for and against requiring a plea for program participation
- Item 1: Bonneville County Mental Health Court Program Standards and Practices, pp. 6-7, 9-10.
- Item 2: Council of State Governments Justice Center, Considerations in Accepting Mental Health Court Applicants Pre-Adjudication or Post-Adjudication, pp. 1-3.
Reinforces your knowledge of the concepts you learned in the module. You will need access to a computer to complete this step. Estimated completion time: 10 minutes
4.1 Which of the following should NOT be considered eligibility criteria for mental health courts? Check all that apply.
4.2 True or False: The existing research on mental health courts conclusively shows that mental health courts have the best criminal justice and behavioral health outcomes for individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression.
4.3 Which of the criteria for selecting mental health court participants does existing reasearch suggest will reduce recidivism to the greatest extent?
4.4 True or False: Mental health courts will see participants who only have mental illnesses, and drug courts will only see individuals with substance use disorders.
4.5 Which of the following statements is true about mental health court programs and people with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and/or developmental disabilities (DD)?
4.1 Correct answer: c and e. Current charge (a), behavioral health diagnosis (b), and residency (d) may all be used as eligibility criteria for a mental health court program, depending on available resources and stakeholder priorities.
4.2 Correct answer: False. There is no conclusive research that supports that individuals with certain diagnoses will benefit from mental health courts more than individuals with other diagnoses.
4.3 Correct answer: a. Research from problem-solving courts and the criminology and behavioral health fields generally recommends that mental health courts focus on individuals with moderate to high criminogenic risk levels to reduce recidivism to the greatest extent (a).
4.4 Correct answer: False. It is not possible to separate individuals with substance use disorders from those with mental illnesses, as there is a high degree of overlap (or co-morbidity) between mental health and substance use disorders. There are also similarities in presentation between certain mental illnesses and certain substance use disorders.
4.5 Correct answer: c. Specific mental health court programs must determine whether they have the resources available to accept participants with TBI and/or DD.
These Activities are designed to prompt discussion among your team about how you will interact as a single unit. Each Activity contains questions and worksheets to complete. One of the Activities in this module requires that you watch short video segments of a mental health court team in action. The Activities include components you will complete on your own and others to be completed as a group. At the end of the Activities, you will be asked to list three main issues that the Activities have raised for your own program planning.
Download the Activities Guide.
These videos feature members of the Bonneville County (ID) Mental Health Court team, a real mental health court team and a Bureau of Justice Assistance Mental Health Court Learning Site, engaging in simulated team meetings and discussing hypothetical program participants. The Bonneville team is not shown as a “model;” for example, some may note the absence of a defense attorney at team meetings. Rather, the Bonneville team represents real people facing real challenges in a mental health court setting.
Meet the mental health court case study team members.
You will be prompted to view these videos in the Activities Guide. You may also link directly to each video from the Activities Guide.
Policy and Practice Guides
“A Handbook for Developing a Mental Health Court Docket.” The Supreme Court of Ohio and the Ohio Judicial System. n.d. This handbook offers judges’ and mental health court practitioners’ insights and recommendations for communities planning and implementing mental health courts.
Callahan, Lisa, and Heathcote W. Wales. “Mental Health Courts Research Roundup: Applying Research to Practice.” This March 2013 webinar provides an overview of emerging research on mental health courts and its implications for selecting target populations, collecting data, sustaining programs, and more.
Council of State Governments Justice Center. A Guide to Mental Health Court Design and Implementation. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2008. See esp. Step III, Section two, “Target Population.” This guide gives advice on planning and implementing a mental health court. Section two (starting on page 28) discusses the appropriate target population for mental health courts and mental health diversion programs.
Council of State Governments Justice Center. Violence Against Women with Mental Illness. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2007. This issue brief discusses the challenges that mental health court practitioners face serving women with mental illnesses who have also been victims of crime.
Hills, Holly. The Special Needs of Women with Co-Occurring Disorders Diverted from the Criminal Justice System. Delmar, NY: The National GAINS Center, 2004. This publication discusses needs specific to women with co-occurring disorders who are involved in diversion programs and problem-solving courts.
National Institute of Corrections, Box Set: Evidence-Based Principles for Reducing Offender Risk. This website contains a series of papers that were developed to focus on evidence-based principles that community corrections officers, treatment providers, pretrial services staff, judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, jails and detention staff, and prison staff can implement to reduce recidivism.
National Drug Court Resource Center. Target Population Fact Sheets. National Drug Court Institute, 2012. This two-part Practitioner Fact Sheet Series offers drug court professionals guidance on targeting the right participants for drug courts and offers a framework and recommendations for designing program tracks based on participants’ risk and needs.
National Institute of Corrections. “The Principles of Effective Interventions.” U.S. Department of Justice. n.d. This webpage lists principles of effective offender interventions and provides resources for implementing evidence-based interventions.
Osher, Fred C., David A. D’Amora, Martha Plotkin, Nicole Jarrett, and Alexa Eggleston. Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2012. This publication introduces criminal justice and behavioral health practitioners to an evidence-based framework for prioritizing scarce resources based on assessments of individuals’ risk of committing a future crime and their treatment and support needs.
Peters, Roger. “Addressing Co-occurring Disorders in Adult Court-Based Programs.” Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project Webinar, August 16, 2012. This webinar gives problem-solving court practitioners an overview of mental health and substance use screening and assessment instruments, as well as evidence-based interventions for individuals with co-occurring disorders.
Prins, Seth J., and Fred C. Osher. Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of Specialized Probation Initiatives. New York, NY: Council of State Governments, 2009. See esp. Element 2, “Defining, Identifying, and Assessing a Target Population.” This guide describes the collaborative mental health court planning process. Element 2 provides recommendations to assist mental health court planners in defining and identifying an appropriate target population.
Council of State Governments Justice Center. “Criminal Justice/Mental Health Learning Sites.” Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project. n.d. In partnership with the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Council of State Governments Justice Center has identified agencies from across the country with comprehensive and successful criminal justice/mental health programs that are willing to share their expertise. The mental health court “learning sites” represent a diverse cross-section of perspectives and court models and serve as centers for peer-to-peer learning for other criminal justice and mental health agencies and organizations.
Council of State Governments Justice Center. “JMHCP Grantee (2010) – Butler County Court of Common Pleas/SAMI Court.” Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project. n.d. The Butler County Court of Common Pleas/SAMI Court is a 2010 BJA Justice Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grantee. The court serves up to 50 participants per year with nonviolent felony charges and axis I diagnoses.
Council of State Governments Justice Center. “JMHCP Grantee (2010) – San Diego Superior Court Behavioral Health Court.” Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project. n.d. The San Diego Superior Court Behavioral Health Court is a 2010 BJA JMHCP grantee. The court serves up to 200 participants per year with axis 1 diagnoses and violent and nonviolent felony and misdemeanor charges.
Department of Human Services. “Mental Health Court.” Allegheny County Department of Human Services. n.d. Established in 2002, the Allegheny County Mental Health Court serves individuals with non-violent criminal charges and documented diagnoses of mental illnesses.
Fisler, Carol. “Building Trust and Managing Risk: A Look at a Felony Mental Health Court.” Psychology, Public Policy, and Law 11, 2005: 587-604. This publication explores the Brooklyn Mental Health Court, including the court’s planning process and its decision to target participants with felony charges.