Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Social Work (MSW)


Social Work


This descriptive study investigates whether offenders with mental illness are diverted from the criminal justice system to the mental health system in an urban county. Interviews were conducted with key decision makers to determine policy and procedures. Admissions to the county medical center psychiatric unit were correlated with arrests and in-custody county jail data for years 1985-87 and 1995-97.

Interviews reveal offenders with mental illness are detained in jail while awaiting mental health screening and court dispositions. If competent, offenders with mental illness can be sentenced to a corrections facility to serve their sentences with the general population. If incompetent to stand trial in criminal court, offenders with mental illness are referred to the mental health system for treatment.

The quantitative findings of increased psychiatric admissions and decreased jail bookings suggest that persons with mental illness may be diverted from jail. After booked and in custody, the psychiatric admissions decreased. Policy recommendations include early identification of offenders with mental illness and diversion to the mental health system.


SC 11.MSW.1999.Cochran.C

Included in

Social Work Commons