Theses and Dissertations

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Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PhD)


Center for Psychological Studies

First Advisor

Lenore Walker

Second Advisor

David Shapiro

Third Advisor

Christian DeLucia


mental health court, psychotropic medication, severe mental illness


In light of the increasing number of mentally ill inmates in the criminal justice system, felony mental health courts aim to de-criminalize these individuals and link them to appropriate types of treatment within the community. Few studies have investigated the successful linkage of community-based treatment among felony mental health court participants. More specifically, there is an absence of research on the efficacy of pharmacotherapy on recidivism status among felony mental health court defendants. This retrospective study used archival data to determine if receiving pharmacotherapy will increase duration of time between arrests and keep felony mental health court participants out of the criminal justice system longer. The study also aimed to investigate if psychotropic medication use helped to reduce the risk of violent arrests among those participating in the felony mental health program. Lastly, it evaluated whether drugs from specific classes had more of an effect on recidivism status than others. Cox regression analyses, with propensity score adjustments, were used to determine if psychotropic medication keeps felony mental health court participants out of the criminal justice system longer. Cox regression analysis was also used to determine if specific drugs from different classes had more of an effect on time to re-arrest than others. Lastly, a binary logistic regression, with propensity score adjustments, was used to determine if psychotropic medication helped to reduce the risk of future violent offenses after entry into the FMHC program. All analyses included covariates to control for any potentially confounding factors to the outcome. The study yielded non-significant results when testing whether or not the use of psychotropic medication had an impact on the time to re-arrest, and on risks of future violent offenses.

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