24 Dev. Mental Health L. 1 (2005)

handle is hein.journals/dvmnhlt24 and id is 1 raw text is: DEVELOPMENTS IN
MENTAL HEALTH LAW
The Institute of Law, Psychiatry & Public Policy - The University of Virginia

Volume 24, Number 1

January 2005

Mental Health Courts: Moving Beyond the Drug Court Model
MHCs are relatively new in the realm of therapeutic adjudication. Of particular concern is
whether the basic drug court model is appropriate for dealing with the special issues presented
by offenders with a mental illness.
By Lacey R. Parker*

Abstract. Mental Health Courts (MHCs)
currently enjoy significant political support and
popularity. Hailed as a solution to crowded
prisons, strapped state and local budgets, and
concerns about the welfare of offenders with a
mental illness, since 1997 over a hundred of
these courts have been established. MHCs
also appear successful. Although research is
preliminary, there are indications that MHCs
provide offenders with a mental illness a more
positive experience than the traditional
criminal justice system. Using drug courts as
a model for therapeutic justice has offered
jurisdictions a readily accessible vehicle for
creating and maintaining MHCs. As MHCs
continue to develop and expand, deviation
from the drug court model will lead to better
and more effective treatment for mentally ill
offenders.
Introduction
Therapeutic courts have enjoyed a recent
surge in popularity. These courts provide an

alternative to the traditional criminal justice
Also in this issue:
ILPPP Educational Programs. 16
Andrew H. Ellis, Incorporating
Mental Health Assessments of
Future Dangerousness into
Pretrial Detention Decisions... 17
Supreme Court Cases ...... 33
Virginia Cases ...................... 36
Other Federal Court Cases ..... 45
Other State Court Cases ......... 49

system and focus on rehabilitation rather than
deterrence or retribution.1 Rather than rely on
the adversarial model where the state is pitted
against the defendant, these courts seek to
promote a coordinated and integrated

 J.D. (anticipated), University of Virginia School of Law, 2005.
1 Christin E. Keele, Criminalization of the Mentally Ill: The Challenging Role of the Defense Attorney in the
Mental Health Court System, 71 UMKC L. REV. 193, 202 (2002).

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