Behavioral Health & the Law

Gavel on top of stack of books with scale and judge in background

We investigate the impact of the criminal and civil legal systems on treatment and justice outcomes for individuals with behavioral health conditions, as well as risk and protective factors mediating the relationship between violence and mental illness. This work is in collaboration with the Wilson Center for Science and Justice at the Duke School of Law.

Representative Studies

Civil Legal & Policy Research

  • Understanding the effects of involuntary commitment of people with psychiatric disorders, including mandatory outpatient treatment programs
  • Implementation and effectiveness of psychiatric advance directives 
  • Studying the process, effects and unintended consequences of being found incompetent to proceed in a criminal prosecution 
  • Police transport during mental health crisis, its antecedents and consequences   

Criminal Legal & Policy Research

  • Evaluating pre-arrest jail diversion programs that connect people with behavioral health disorders who commit low-level offenses to services in lieu of arrest
  • Studying health and criminal justice outcomes associated with medications for treating opioid and alcohol use disorders, in different community settings (e.g., drug court)
  • Identifying gender differences in post-booking jail diversion and other interventions for persons with co-occurring disorders
  • Examining judicial practices and legal leverage in post-booking jail diversion programs 
  • Studying the effectiveness of re-entry programs for persons with behavioral health disorders returning to the community from incarceration
  • Estimating costs associated with criminal justice involvement among people with severe mental illness

Faculty & Staff

Click on a faculty member’s name to view their profile, including their grants and publications.