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Mental Health Courts Essay

Pages:1 (417 words)



Topic:Criminal Justice System

Document Type:Essay


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Mental health courts in the criminal justice system are designed for individuals with a mental health disability. They act as alternative courts for such individuals though they are similar to other specialized courts like veterans’ courts and drug courts. These courts were developed to help address the inability of conventional courts and jails to address the needs of defendants with mental illnesses (Mental Health America, 2020). Traditional policing, courts and corrections lacked measures to address defendants with mental health issues, which resulted in the establishment of these courts. Traditional policing initiatives and courts treated mental health ill defendants in the same manner as other offenders while corrections did not include programs that sought to provide mental health treatment to these individuals. As a result of unique needs of these individuals, practitioners altered their approaches to mental health individuals coming into contact with the criminal justice system through establishing mental health courts. This resulted in fundamental in how mental health issues affecting the criminal justice system are dealt with.

Even though there are different components of the criminal justice system, the commonalities of the solutions identified for such individuals include de-stigmatization and treatment programs. De-stigmatization and mental health treatment has characterized approaches adopted to deal mental health individuals coming into contact with the criminal justice system. As a result, the criminal justice system employs a problem-solving approach, community-based treatment, and rewards system when dealing with such mentally ill individuals (Thompson, Osher & Tomasini-Joshi, 2007). However, criminal justice professionals should be trained on clinical eligibility criteria and treatment capacity in the community to help lessen the increased dependence of these courts in providing treatment to mentally ill patients who could be diverted from the system. This is essential because increased reliance on mental health courts for treating mentally ill individuals has proven counterproductive. Therefore, such training would help criminal justice personnel to identify other community treatment programs that could be suitable for some individuals with mental illnesses. These individuals will then be referred to or diverted to community treatment programs rather than being incorporated in mental health courts and the criminal justice system. Criminal justice professionals can enlist the support of communities for this new reality through awareness programs and conducting community trainings through community policing initiatives.


Mental Health America. (2020). Position Statement 53: Mental Health Courts. Retrieved April 27, 2020, from

Thompson, M., Osher, F. & Tomasini-Joshi, D. (2007). Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses. Retrieved from Bureau of Justice Assistance website:

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