Forensic Assertive Community Treatment: Preventing Incarceration of Adults With Severe Mental Illness
P ersons with severe mental disorders are overrepresented in jails and prisons in the United States. Studies by Teplin and colleagues (1,2), survey data from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (3), and a review by Lamb and Weinberger (4) suggest that the prevalence of severe mental disorders in correctional facilities ranges between 6 percent and 16 percent. These rates are significantly higher than the rate of 2.8 percent in the general population (5). The recent Criminal Justice/Mental Health
... nsensus Project (6), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) (7,8), and national advocacy organizations (9,10) have expressed concern about the problem and have called for effective strategies to address it. Jail diversion is currently a predominant approach to preventing unnecessary arrest and incarceration of persons with severe mental illness. This approach encompasses a wide range of strategies that are positioned primarily within the criminal justice system (11), including specialized police teams, mental health courts, and pretrial service agencies (12, 13) . Because these strategies are designed to prevent incarceration by diverting highrisk individuals to treatment, their effectiveness is likely to depend on the availability of appropriate services in the community (8). Despite the importance of access to treatment and support services, many diversion programs lack effective linkages to community-based care.