The Influence of Criminal Charge Type and Demographics in Predicting Successful Reformation in Mental Courts
Cano-Santillanes, Kevin Angel
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For this study, I will focus on looking at data collected in the mental health recovery court (MHRC) in the Kalamazoo County. In 2008, the Kalamazoo County established a MHRC after discovering an increase repetition of rearrests in the community. This MHRC program focuses on reducing recidivism in the court system, by diverting non-violent offenders from the traditional process of the justice system. If participants complete the program, which is determined by their performance, their cases are reevaluated by the court judges to determine an appropriate judgment that is not limited to the traditional court process, such as being sentenced to prison. My motivation going in this study is to provide further evidence to support debunking demographics and charge type as defining factors to determine eligibility in the MHRC system. By disqualifying these two factors in the process, it would open doors to more people that could benefit from the program. A limitation in previous research on mental health courts is that findings cannot be applied in many communities because the data is not representative to the U.S. population. This would then allow other researchers to investigate the effectiveness of mental health courts by diversifying the sample. In this study, I predict three different patterns will appear: 1) women are more likely to be a successful case in the program than men; 2) although race will remain disproportional in the data, Caucasians will be more likely to succeed in the program than any other category; 3) due to their nature of minor offense, individuals with misdemeanors are more likely to be successful in the program than individuals with felonies.