Approximately 15% of people incarcerated in the U.S. criminal justice system are involved with the criminal justice system primarily due to mental health problems. Mental health courts have been shown to reduce recidivism rates and keep people out of prison.

A court created to work with nonviolent offenders whose involvement with the criminal justice system can be attributed largely to mental illness. Participants are assigned to mental health treatment which may include hospitalization, and receive ongoing follow-up treatment and medication. Participants who successfully complete the program have their criminal charges dropped.

Our model assumes 18 months of intensive treatment which includes bi-weekly meetings with mental health professionals.

Approximately 14,000 non-violent arrestees per year who suffer from a serious mental illness in Atlanta.

For a $32.5 million investment offering the Mental Health Court program to one cohort of 8,363 offenders with a severe mental illness:

We use a variety of data sources to tailor our analysis to the location and to make our estimates as accurate as possible. However, sometimes data is unavailable, either because it has not been collected, or because it is not shared publicly. We encourage government agencies and other organizations to share their de-identified data online and researchers to prioritize the following gaps in the data. 

Recidivism - There is insufficient data on the different recidivism rates for people convicted of felonies compared with people convicted of misdemeanors.

Effect of Serious Mental Illness and Criminal Record on Employment - Studies clearly indicate that people suffering from a severe mental illness have lower rates of employment. Evidence also indicates that people with a previous criminal conviction on their record are less likely to be employed. However, there is insufficient data on how these factors affect employment when combined.