Marisa Elena Domino Ph.D., Alex Gertner BA, Brigid Grabert JD, MPH, Gary S. Cuddeback PhD, Trenita Childers PhD, Joseph P. Morrissey Ph.D.
To examine whether the receipt of timely mental health services is associated with changes in criminal justice interactions.
We used linked administrative data from Medicaid, mental health, and criminal justice settings in Washington State for persons with severe mental illness released from prison (n = 3086).
We estimate local and average treatment effects to examine measures of criminal justice use in the year following release as a function of timely mental health services.
Measures of timely service and criminal justice use within 12 months postrelease were created from administrative data.
Individuals receiving timely mental health services are more likely to experience prison re‐incarceration overall and specifically for technical violations 12 months postrelease. The effect of service receipt on incarceration for new charges was negative but not significant.
The finding that mental health services receipt is associated with increased risk of re‐incarceration due to technical violations speaks to the complexity of the relationship between mental health and criminal justice services for justice‐involved persons with severe mental illness. Further research should examine strategies at the interface of criminal justice and mental health that can improve mental health and criminal justice outcomes for this vulnerable population.