Publications on Mental Health Courts

Justice Center Publications

Judges’ Guide to Mental Illnesses in the Courtroom

Judges’ Guide to Mental Illnesses in the Courtroom

The Judges’ Guide to Mental Illnesses in the Courtroom is a two-page bench card to help judges recognize the signs of possible mental illnesses among individuals in the courtroom and to respond sensitively and productively.

Mental Health Courts: A Primer for Policymakers and Practitioners

Mental Health Courts: A Primer for Policymakers and Practitioners

This primer from the Council of State Governments Justice Center provides a general overview of the mental health court program model and discusses the emergence of the courts, their objectives and procedures, how they differ from drug courts, and a number of other key issues.

A Guide to the Role of Crime Victims in Mental Health Courts

A Guide to the Role of Crime Victims in Mental Health Courts

This Council of State Governments Justice Center publication is intended to highlight the potential role of crime victims in mental health courts, addressing the challenges court teams face in trying to involve victims and the reasons to devote time and energy to overcoming them.

A Guide to Collecting Mental Health Court Outcome Data

A Guide to Collecting Mental Health Court Outcome Data

The purpose of this guide is to help both well-established and newly operating courts develop practical, feasible, and effective strategies for collecting outcome data. After a brief discussion of key assumptions and target population and goals, the guide suggests strategies for determining which data to collect, obtaining the data, evaluating the data, comparing the data, collecting qualitative data, and overcoming common challenges.

A Guide to Mental Health Court Design and Implementation

A Guide to Mental Health Court Design and Implementation

This report from the Council of State Governments Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project explains critical issues such as determining whether to establish a mental health court, defining the target population, ensuring confidentiality, sustaining the court, and other key considerations.

External Publications

Toward a New Understanding of Mental Health Courts

Toward a New Understanding of Mental Health Courts

In this report, Center for Court Innovation Director of Mental Health Court Programs Carol Fisler discusses the implications of a growing body of research on the efficacy of mental health courts.

Statewide Mental Health Court Outcome Evaluation: Aggregate Report

In 2008, the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) developed the Michigan Mental Health Court Grant Program as a mechanism to jointly fund a statewide mental health court pilot program during fiscal year 2009. In […]

2011 Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Brochure

A guide about the grant program created to help states, units of local government, Indian tribes, and tribal organizations improve responses to justice-involved people with mental illnesses or co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.

Consensus Project Report Overview

Provides a brief summary of the Justice Center’s landmark Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project Report, which was written by Justice Center staff and representatives of leading criminal justice and mental health organizations. The Report, which reflects the results of a series of meetings among 100 of the most respected criminal justice and mental health practitioners in the country, was released in June 2002.

Lessons from the Broward County mental health court evaluation.

The creation of specialty mental health courts has emerged as a strategy to address the impact of persons with mental illness in the criminal justice system by consolidating the management of certain types of cases into a single court. This article describes an evaluation of the nation’s first such court, the Broward County Mental Health Court. The purpose is to alert those who may conduct future evaluations of these types of courts to some of the contextual, logistic, and management features of our evaluation and the challenges we have encountered doing field research in this unique legal setting.

Mental health courts and the complex issue of mentally ill offenders.

The authors describe mental health courts in Broward County, Florida; King County, Washington; Anchorage, Alaska; and Marion County, Indiana. Each of these courts is designed to meet the specific needs and resources of its jurisdiction. The authors discuss the issues of due process, availability of services, and control of resources, which must be addressed before mental health courts are widely implemented.

The use of criminal charges and sanctions in mental health courts.

This study sought to describe the use of criminal charges, sanctions (primarily jail), and other strategies mental health courts use to mandate adherence to community treatment, and in doing so to elaborate on earlier descriptions of such courts.