Mental health courts and their selection processes: Modeling variation for consistency

Nancy Wolff, Nicole Fabrikant, Steven Belenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Scopus citations


Admission into mental health courts is based on a complicated and often variable decision-making process that involves multiple parties representing different expertise and interests. To the extent that eligibility criteria of mental health courts are more suggestive than deterministic, selection bias can be expected. Very little research has focused on the selection processes underpinning problem-solving courts even though such processes may dominate the performance of these interventions. This article describes a qualitative study designed to deconstruct the selection and admission processes of mental health courts. In this article, we describe a multi-stage, complex process for screening and admitting clients into mental health courts. The selection filtering model that is described has three eligibility screening stages: initial, assessment, and evaluation. The results of this study suggest that clients selected by mental health courts are shaped by the formal and informal selection criteria, as well as by the local treatment system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)402-412
Number of pages11
JournalLaw and Human Behavior
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology(all)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


  • Admission processes
  • Mental health courts
  • Selection bias


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