Although traditional responses to justice-involved people with mental illness focus on providing psychiatric services, reduced symptoms rarely translate to reduced offending. With funding from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, we are testing the effectiveness of a new policy response—one that targets these people’s risk factors for reoffending (like criminal attitudes), using cognitive behavioral treatment (CBT) shown to reduce recidivism for general offenders.
Specifically, we are recruiting and following 720 people for an intensive randomized controlled trial that will test whether and how the non-proprietary “Interventions” CBT program adds value to existing services. We will examine the impact of “Interventions” on re-arrest rates for (a) behavioral health court clients with serious mental illness and (b) at-risk probationers with mental health problems mandated to a day reporting center. Results will provide empirical guidance for responding to justice-involved people with a diverse clinical and criminogenic needs.