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Alaska Justice Forum 18(4), Winter 2002

The Winter 2002  issue of the Alaska Justice Forum focuses on mental health and the justice system, with two articles about Anchorage Mental Health Court, one of the first four mental health courts in the U.S.; a description of several therapeutic court projects being implemented by the Alaska Court System; and a discussion of the mentally ill in correctional institutions in Alaska and nationwide where, in 2000, one in every eight state prisoners was receiving some mental health therapy or counseling services. An additional article presents figures from the Bureau of Justice Statistics on justice system expenditures in Alaska and the nation.

"The Court Coordinated Resources Project — Mental Health Court in Alaska"

Most justice system professionals recognize that the routine shuffling of mentally ill offenders in and out of prisons that occurs within the ordinary justice system process has little positive effect on offender behavior and may exacerbate mental instability, leading to further criminal behavior. By engaging mentally ill offenders with an appropriate routine of care, mental health courts seek to prevent the unneccesary jailing of mentally ill offenders while protecting the community from further criminal behavior. The Court Coordinated Resources Project (CRP), also known as Anchorage Mental Health Court, is one of the first four mental health courts in the country. Without many previous practical models, this effort is grappling with issues of administration, funding, and staffing as it erects a new framework for court handling of mentally ill misdemeanor offenders.

"Evaluating the Anchorage Mental Health Court" by Teresa W. Carns

The Alaska Judicial Council is in the first stages of evaluating all of the therapeutic court programs currently underway in the Alaska Court System, including the Court Coordinated Resources Project (CRP), also known as the Anchorage Mental Health Court. Evaluating the Mental Health Court presents special difficulties. Unlike other therapeutic projects which focus on drug or alcohol addiction, the expected outcome in Mental Health Court is not a cure but stability or improvement in the situation. Because each defendant's situation and illness or condition is different, the program may differ for each client and may last for a different length of time.

"Alaska Therapeutic Court Projects"

Several therapeutic court projects in varying stages of implementation by the Anchorage Court System are described in this article, and the therapeutic justice model is compared with other justice theories in operation in the U.S. justice system, including retributive justice, restorative justice, and community justice.

"Corrections and the Mentally Ill"

The Alaska Department of Corrections is the largest provider of in-patient psychiatric services in the state. This article reports on the mentally ill in correctional institutions in Alaska and nationwide where, in 2000, one in every eight state prisoners was receiving some mental health therapy or counseling services, and nearly 10 percent (105,000 individuals) were receiving psychiatric medications.

"Justice System Expenditures in Alaska and the Nation (A BJS Report)"
by the Bureau of Justice Statistics

In 1999, Alaska spent more per capita on justice functions than any other state - almost $725 per person - while the percentage of local and state employees working in the justice system in Alaska was among the lowest. This article examines justice expenditures and employment in Alaska and the nation. U.S. justice system expenditures increased 309 percent between 1982 and 1999, when the nation spent a record $147 billion for police protection, corrections, and judicial and legal activities.

"André Rosay"

Dr. André Rosay will join the Justice Center faculty as an assistant professor.