Exploring the Relationship between Demographics, Mental Illness, and Recidivism at a Texas Mental Health Disorder Court
Abstract: Mental health courts (MHCs) are a product of specialized problem-solving courts that divert offenders with mental illness from the traditional criminal justice system into community-based treatment. Plentiful research has been conducted to find the effectiveness of the role of MHCs in reducing recidivism since MHCs have rapidly grown a relationship with the criminal justice system. Recidivism, in this study, is defined as a mental health court participant committing a violation and getting re-arrested. However, little to no research has been directed toward specific variables leading to recidivism among MHC participants. This present study examined the relationship between demographic variables and mental illness with regard to post program recidivism. The data were collected from the Bexar County Mental Health Initiative Adult, Co-Occurring Disorder Court between 2008 and 2014 (N = 444). A linear regression was conducted to examine if bipolar disorder, secondary diagnoses and demographics such as age, gender, and ethnicity predicted recidivism. Overall, the model was significant, R2 (5, 438) = .03, SE = 1.00, p = .01. Only two variables were found to be significantly related to recidivism, of which predicted less recidivism. Females recidivated less than males, b(1,442) = -.21, SE = .10, p = .03. Upon further examination, this finding was not unexpected since only 44% of total recidivists were females compared to 56% of recidivists being male. Additionally, having a second diagnosis also predicted less recidivism, b(1,442) = -.33, SE = .17, p < .01. Participants with a secondary disorder were less likely to commit a crime during or after they participated in the MHC program. These findings contradict much literature that has linked mental illness with recidivism, but can be used to further investigate which specific co-occurring disorders lower recidivism risk.
Jasmine V. Idrogo*
Judging Forms – Official judges only