College of Psychology Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award

1-1-2011

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)

Department

Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

David Shapiro

Second Advisor

Lenore Walker

Third Advisor

Christian DeLucia

Keywords

Broward County Mental Health Court, Court Diversion Program, Mentally Ill Offenders, Recidivism

Abstract

The purpose of this research study is to understand the characteristics of the people arrested for felony charges and transferred into the Broward County Felony Mental Health Court (FMHC) program. This research project will review previously collected data on the subjects who participated in the FMHC program between January 2007 and September 2008, and who were diverted to a residential dual-diagnosis program. Problem-solving courts have been developed in many states as a way to effectively restore offenders and reduce recidivism (Stefan & Winick, 2005). The goal of mental health courts is to prevent criminal behavior and recidivism by accommodating necessary mental health services to those who need it. However, most offenders placed in a mental health program commit new violations or offenses. A frequent question that is raised when evaluating mental health courts is whether they are successful in allocating resources for mentally ill defendants, as well as whether jail diversion programs are effective in preventing recidivism or rehabilitating mentally ill offenders. The difficulty to find answers for those questions may be due to the diversity of each jurisdiction's population, complexity of mental illnesses and differences in each unique jail diversion program. Some reports state that in contrast to drug courts, current mental health courts seem to lack resources to assess the participation of services mandated (Steadman, Davidson & Brown, 2001.)

In this current study, the data collected on the subjects is comprehensive and include criminal, family, trauma, abuse and psychiatric histories. The levels of compliance were taken from re-arrests records including new crimes and violations of probation for up to two years after entering the jail-diversion program. This study is seeking to investigate the relationship between recidivism and different diagnoses, types of trauma experienced as a child as well as trauma scales from the Trauma Symptom Inventory (TSI.) It is hypothesized that elevated scores on trauma scales as well as early exposure of abuse will be related to high recidivism among a subset of participants in the mental health court program.

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