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Treating offenders with mental illness: a research synthesis

, : Treating offenders with mental illness: a research synthesis. Law and Human Behavior 36(1): 37-50

The purpose of this research synthesis was to examine treatment effects across studies of the service providers to offenders with mental illness. Meta-analytic techniques were applied to 26 empirical studies obtained from a review of 12,154 research documents. Outcomes of interest in this review included measures of both psychiatric and criminal functioning. Although meta-analytic results are based on a small sample of available studies, results suggest interventions with offenders with mental illness effectively reduced symptoms of distress, improving offender's ability to cope with their problems, and resulted in improved behavioral markers including institutional adjustment and behavioral functioning. Furthermore, interventions specifically designed to meet the psychiatric and criminal justice needs of offenders with mental illness have shown to produce significant reductions in psychiatric and criminal recidivism. Finally, this review highlighted admission policies and treatment strategies (e.g., use of homework), which produced the most positive benefits. Results of this research synthesis are directly relevant for service providers in both criminal justice and mental health systems (e.g., psychiatric hospitals) as well as community settings by informing treatment strategies for the first time, which are based on empirical evidence. In addition, the implications of these results to policy makers tasked with the responsibility of designating services for this special needs population are highlighted.


PMID: 22471384

DOI: 10.1037/h0093964

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