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learned about mental health courts. As this is a
relatively new innovation, their effectiveness is still being studied. A number
of interesting questions have arisen from this development, including those
which comprise this week’s discussion assignment:

·Is it important for participation in a
mental health court to be voluntary on the part of the offender, or should the
prosecutor be able to direct a case to mental health court?

·What are some of the unintended negative
consequences of having one’s case diverted through a mental health court as
opposed to normal processing in criminal court? For instance, it might be
possible that having a “mental health” issue on record could prevent the
offender from applying for certain jobs in the future. What other negative
effects might result?

·Clearly, a serious mental disorder such as
schizophrenia would justify the special treatment accorded by mental health
courts and treatment programs. What other conditions should be included in this
protocol? For instance, should drug addiction be considered a “mental illness”
for the purposes of determining whether to divert a criminal case to mental
health court?

·Last, is it fair to the victim of the crime
to have the case diverted away from traditional trial and punishment? Should
the victim have input into the decision to divert a case?

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