Mental health courts were developed to help criminal defendants who have a mental illness that is a significant contributing factor to their arrest. These diversion programs are characterized by three key components. Screening involves the identification of defendants who are suspected of having a mental illness. Assessment involves the evaluation of identified defendants by a mental health professional. The last component involves court diversion staff negotiating with prosecutors, defense attorneys, the courts and community-based mental health providers to work towards having charges reduced or waived. Evidence suggests that mental health courts can help to reduce recidivism rates.
Loong D et al. The Effectiveness of Mental Health Courts in Reducing Recidivism and Police Contact: A Systematic Review.Community Ment Health J. 2019 Oct;55(7):1073-1098.