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​Mental Health Court

Mental health courts in Michigan have been established since the late 2000s.  The State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) funded eight pilot mental health court programs from fiscal year 2009 through fiscal year 2013.  In fiscal year 2014, mental health courts expanded, totaling 20 active programs (17 adult and 3 juvenile), while several jurisdictions are in the planning stages.  Mental health court programs have reported favorable outcomes as cited in the Michigan Problem-Solving Courts Performance and Outcomes Report ​ published by SCAO.  This report documents that 46 percent of participants successfully completed the program.  Of those that completed the program 36 percent improved their employment status, 47 percent improved their educational level, 95 percent improved their quality of life, 97 improved their mental health, and 84 percent were compliant with medication. Additionally, mental health court participants had a lower recidivism rate 12 months after admission into the program when compared to the comparison group members.  The recidivism rate for the mental health court participants was 4 percent, compared to the recidivism rate for the comparison group at 22 percent.  Even more telling, 4 years after admission, mental health court participants convicted of a new offense was 34 percent, while the comparison group members convicted of a new offense was 59 percent.
Mental health court is modeled after drug court and was developed in response to the overrepresentation of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system.  Mental health court diverts select defendants with mental illness into judicially-supervised, community-based treatment.  Defendants are invited to participate following a specialized screening and assessment, and they may choose to decline participation.  For those who agree to the terms and conditions of community-based supervision, a team of court staff and mental health professionals work together to develop treatment plans and supervise participants in the community.  Participants appear at regular status hearings during which incentives are offered to encourage adherence to court conditions, sanctions for nonadherence are handed down, and treatment plans and other conditions are periodically reviewed for appropriateness (Council of State Governments, 2005).  [Huddleston & Marlowe, National Drug Court Institute and United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance, Painting the Current Picture: A National Report on Drug Courts and Other Problem-Solving Court Programs in the United States (July 2011, p 45).]
The concept of mental health court has been a topic of discussion since the mid l980s.  However, in l997 Broward County, Florida, was recognized and published as the first “specialized” mental health court.  Programs differ widely in eligibility criteria, the way cases are processed, the way treatment is provided, and the way cases are disposed upon discharge from the program.  There are numerous ways to structure a mental health court; however, a successful program requires partnership and collaboration between the local court and the community mental health services program.  Furthermore, grant-funded courts in Michigan are required to target individuals with a serious mental illness, serious emotional disturbance, or a developmental disability as defined by MCL 330.1100.
*Mental health court overview adapted from A Guide to Mental Health Court Design and Implementation, a publication of the Council of State Governments prepared for the Bureau of Justice Assistance. May 2005.

List of Mental Health Courts 

(includes adult and juvenile)

Michigan Mental Health Court Minimum Data Standards

Pursuant to MCL 600.1099, each mental health court is required to collect and provide data on each individual applicant and participant and the entire program as required by the State Court Administrative Office.  The SCAO has prepared the following minimum standard data sets.  The reported data will be used in preparing the annual Michigan Problem-Solving Courts Performance and Outcomes report.

​Staff Contact

Daisy Beckett
(517) 373-2218

Dian Gonyea,
Program Evaluator
(517) 373-4854