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The deinstitutionalization of the mentally ill which started in the 1960s greatly contributed to the overcrowding of judicial systems throughout the world. In the ensuing years, the actors involved in the adversarial system present in United States courts, a system that is primarily interested in assessing the culpability of the offender, have come to realize that the system is lacking therapeutic and reintegrative approaches to offenders, especially those who are mentally ill. Therapeutic jurisprudence, an interdisciplinary science, addresses this problematic situation of the mentally ill. It offers a fresh insight into the potentially beneficial and detrimental effects of legal decisions and views one of the roles of law as that of a healing agent. At present, many states have instituted mental health courts based on these concepts, incorporating previous drug court experiences. Their goal is to avoid the criminalization of the mentally ill and their recidivism through the creation of special programs. This article describes the mental health court programs of Washoe County and Clark County, Nevada, their organization, their therapeutic goals, and their success in keeping mentally ill offenders out of the correctional system, while improving their mental condition. In so doing, the program has lightened the load of the overburdened courts and has greatly diminished the financial burden incurred for court trials and jail and prison stays.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: International journal of law and psychiatry
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