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Mental Health Treatment and Criminal Justice Outcomes

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  • Richard Frank
  • Thomas G. McGuire

Abstract

Are many prisoners in jail or prison because of their mental illness? And if so, is mental health treatment a cost-effective way to reduce crime and lower criminal justice costs? This paper reviews and evaluates the evidence assessing the potential of expansion of mental health services for reducing crime. Mental illness and symptoms of mental illness are highly prevalent among adult and child criminal justice populations. The association between serious mental illness and violence and arrest is particularly strong among individuals who are psychotic and do not adhere to medication. Two empirical studies augment the empirical research base relating mental illness to crime. In a recent community sample of adults, we find higher rates of arrest for those with serious mental illness and with substance abuse. Among youth, even with family fixed effects, antisocial personality scores predict future school problems and arrests. A large body of research tracks mental health and criminal justice outcomes associated with treatments and social policies. Reviews of the cost-effectiveness of treatments for children with behavioral problems, mental health courts, and mandatory outpatient treatment are inconclusive.

Suggested Citation

  • Richard Frank & Thomas G. McGuire, 2010. "Mental Health Treatment and Criminal Justice Outcomes," NBER Working Papers 15858, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:15858
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    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w15858.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Dave E. Marcotte & Sara Markowitz, 2011. "A cure for crime? Psycho‚Äźpharmaceuticals and crime trends," Journal of Policy Analysis and Management, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 30(1), pages 29-56, December.
    2. Currie, Janet & Stabile, Mark, 2006. "Child mental health and human capital accumulation: The case of ADHD," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 25(6), pages 1094-1118, November.
    3. Edward C. Norton & Jangho Yoon & Marisa Elena Domino & Joseph P. Morrissey, 2006. "Transitions between the public mental health system and jail for persons with severe mental illness: a Markov analysis," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 15(7), pages 719-733.
    4. repec:aph:ajpbhl:1990:80:6:663-669_1 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:aph:ajpbhl:2002:92:9:1523-1531_9 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.2008.144279_1 is not listed on IDEAS
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    Cited by:

    1. Yoon, Jangho & Luck, Jeff, 2016. "Intersystem return on investment in public mental health: Positive externality of public mental health expenditure for the jail system in the U.S," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 170(C), pages 133-142.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health

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