Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Honors Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)




Lizabeth Roemer


Rajini Srikanth

Subject Categories

Criminology | Psychology


Since the 1950’s there has been an increasingly large population of individuals suffering from psychological disorders within the United States criminal justice system. Many psychiatrists and psychologists attribute this rising population to deinstitutionalization, a period in which psychiatric hospitals drastically reduced the number of patients they would serve. As a result, a larger amount of persons suffering from psychological disorders were released into society, where their symptoms are sometimes misinterpreted and criminalized, thus involving the criminal justice system. In response to this growing population the criminal justice system has begun to implement several methods for handling individuals suffering from psychological disorders. In this paper, I will assess the benefits of the criminal justice system shifting away from a purely punitive approach towards one that is mentally health aware. In order to accomplish this I will be examining the various methods the criminal justice system has begun to apply, such as mental health courts, treatment programs within the prison system, jail diversion programs, and the array treatment referral programs for post incarceration. This analysis involves the perceived success from the vantage points of the criminal justice system, the mental health experts involved, and the individual participants, as well as statistical evidence such as recidivism rates, improvement in behavior and symptoms, and improvements in quality of life. Finally, I propose a combination of the presented programs that provide the most beneficial care and outcomes, in the hopes that federal policy will make the necessary changes to beneficially serve individuals suffering from psychological disorders.