The U.S. criminal justice system contains many people with mental illness. In fact, the lack of mental health institutions has, in part, converted prisons and jails into detainment facilities for the mentally ill. Yet prisons and jails are ill-equipped to handle these individuals. Additionally, prisons and jails foster an unstable environment for the mentally ill that can ultimately result in harm to themselves and others. A viable alternative for mentally ill offenders is the use of mental health courts. These courts provide professional treatment, supervision, training, and disciplinary proceedings that reduce recidivism, promote rehabilitation, and incur fewer financial costs. The psychiatric specialization of mental health courts enables mentally ill offenders to navigate the criminal justice system in a more efficient and effective manner that yields better outcomes than regular courts. Preliminary studies of mental health courts support the notion of their widespread incorporation into the U.S. criminal justice system.

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