Emerging Judicial Strategies for the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Caseload: Mental Health Courts in Fort Lauderdale, Seattle, San Bernadino, and Anchorage


(For resources, this is the publication date. For programs, this is the date posted.)


Goldkamp JS, Irons-Guynn C.
Bureau of Justice Assistance

This report describes the emergence of the mental health court strategy in four pioneering jurisdictions in the United States, beginning with Broward County, Florida, where the idea was first innovated and adapted to different settings and challenges in King County (Seattle), Washington; Anchorage, Alaska; and San Bernardino, California. Pressures that have led to the development of the mental health court strategy include crises in community mental health care (the long-term effects of deinstitutionalization), the drug epidemic of the 1980s and 1990s, the dramatic increase in homelessness over that period and problems faced by the mentally ill in already overcrowded jails including the relatively common co-occurrence of mental illness among the large numbers of substance abusers in the criminal justice population.