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Sociology & Anthropology Senior Research Symposium 2022

Poster Session

Kimberlie Dugan

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A Comparison Between Diversion and Reintegration Programs for Individuals with Severe Mental Illness in the Criminal Justice System

After noticing individuals with severe mental illness are often overrepresented in the criminal justice system, I was curious about what kinds of treatment the justice system provides these individuals. This led me to my research question: Are diversion or reintegration programs more beneficial for helping individuals with mental illness exit the criminal justice system and find proper treatment? To best understand the methods that the criminal justice system uses, I decided to look at Mental Health Courts, whose aim is to divert further involvement in the justice system, and Reintegration programs, which aim to help inmates successfully re-enter their community after incarceration. To do this, I reviewed and analyzed secondary data from governmental and community sources that reviewed these programs. After reviewing over 20 documents, I found that MHCs and reentry programs are both successful in reducing the recidivism rates of participants. However, these programs failed to provide evidence showing the effectiveness of their mental health treatments. MHC were able to provide minimal evidence of effective mental health treatment, but nothing significant, while the reentry programs provided no evidence. Upon further research, I found out this is because many programs don’t collectively track participants’ mental health treatment. This was surprising to find because the BOP states their primary goal for reentry programs is to assist progress towards mental health recovery. This finding, coupled with the many deficiencies reported about the reentry programs, shows the need for further research into and recognition of these programs.