Resource Document on Mental Health Courts
Approved by the Joint Reference Committee, October 2020
Mental health courts (MHCs) are one of a range of “problem-solving courts” operated on the premise that the criminal law can be used to therapeutic ends to the benefit of both individual defendants and society as a whole, a concept known as therapeutic jurisprudence (Winick 2003). Other examples of problem-solving courts include homelessness courts, veterans’ treatment courts, and domestic violence courts. Many psychiatrists are unfamiliar with MHCs despite their rapid expansion in recent years. The purpose of this resource document is to describe the concepts behind and operations of MHCs and review their role and effectiveness.