Research Review



Theauthors of this research include Nancy Wolff, Mathew Epperson, JingShi, Jessica Huening, Brooke E. Schumann and Irene Rubinson Sullivan.The professional designations of the authors are professor ofcriminal justice and assistant professor of criminal justicerespectively.The institutional affiliation of the lead author (Nancy)is Center for Behavioral Health Services and Criminal JusticeResearch, Rutgers, State University of New jersey, 176 Ryders Lane,New Brunswick, NJ 08901, USA. The research is based on theeffectiveness of speacialized interventions on the target populationand whether those selected for admission to interventions andrecruited to participate in research evaluations are representativeof the target population. The research shows the way in which clientswere selected to participate in speacialized mental health caseloads(SMHC). It also focuses on the selection process at the program leveland the factors influencing acceptance and rejection by use of mixedmethods approach it’s discovered that selection was guided by a 3stage process: general education phase, informal pre-screening stageand finally a formal screening stage.

Theimportance of this study is to explore the effectiveness of aprototypic SMHC that was implemented in the whole state. A designthat was quasi experimental was used to compare mental health,criminal justice, and outcomes of community engagement among 3caseloads new SMHC supervising roughly 50 clients per officer and atraditional caseload of clients receiving mental health treatment andsupervised by officers with average caseloads of over 130 clients. Itis also important to evaluate interventions in terms of the selectionprocess for example who is selected in and out , fidelity adherenceof the program to the core components of the intervention and outcomeeffects to ensure that they are targeting appropriately populationspenetrating the target population in sufficient numbers. Thisinformation is critical to state and local jurisdictions faced withdeveloping policies and programs that respond to persons with mentalillness within the criminal justice system.

Thepresent study explores the effectiveness of a prototypic specialtymental health caseload implemented in the whole state. Theexperimental design was used to compare supervision, mental healthand community engagement outcomes three caseloads: a newlyestablished SMHC supervising no more than 30 clients per officer, anestablished SMHC supervising roughly 50 clients per officer andsupervised by officers with caseloads of more than 130 clients. Thedesign was used to test the effectiveness of the SHMC in terms ofcriminal justice, behavioral health and community stability outcomesfor clients with mental illness. This occurred in July 2010 wherebythe New Jersey Probation Service Division implemented SMHCS in all 21counties

Theresults showed that there are blacker and less Hispanic probationerson the pilot caseload compared to the traditional caseload. Clientson the speacialized caseloads compared to clients on the traditionalcaseload were less likely to have been charged with violent offensesand more likely to have offenses against property and public order. Amore pronounced pattern was observed for jail days. The averagenumber of jail days for the grant and pilot caseloads as a wholesignificantly decreased in the 6 months post assignment from 4 daysto one day and from six days to two days respectively. A regressionanalysis on HLM was conducted to predict differences in jail sixmonths pre and post assignment to caseload. Significant differenceswere found for pre-post-changes between grant vs. traditionalcaseloads types and pilot vs. Traditional caseload types controllingfor caseloads differences (age, gender, race, ethnicity, types ofoffenses) compared to the traditional caseload a larger reduction injail days was found for the grant and pilot caseloads in the sixmonths post assignment. The probationers who were male compared totheir female counterparts had larger reductions in jail days sixmonths post assignment compared to six months pre assignment whilethose with offenses involving danger to person had less reductions insix months post assignment than pre assignment.

Findingssupport the effectiveness of speacialized mental health caseloadsthere are reasons to be cautious. The study design is quasiexperimental and as such may be confounded by uncontrolled factorssuch as group differences and size. Regression and propensity scoreanalyses were used to control for differences among the groups butunmeasured and perhaps systematic differences are still apossibility. Also the observation period was short: three and sixmonths. It also proved difficult to enroll the clients in theresearch study which limited the ability to obtain mental healthoutcome and utilization research study which limited the ability toobtain mental health outcome and utilization data and to measure thiscosts.


Kemp,D. R. (2007). Mental Health in America: A Reference Handbook.Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO.