Department of Justice Says Court-Ordered Outpatient Treatment for Mental Illness "Works" to Prevent Crime and Violence, Treatment Advocacy Center announces

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Citing multiple studies, the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs has released a determination that assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) is an “effective,” evidence-based practice that works to reduce arrests and violent behavior by individuals with untreated severe mental illness.

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“The federal government’s recognition of the growing mountain of evidence that AOT reduces crime is most welcome."

The Department of Justice Programs “Crime Solutions” research into “what works” in criminal justice has determined that assisted outpatient treatment is an “effective” and evidence-based practice for reducing crime and violence, according to the Treatment Advocacy Center, a national nonprofit that supports the passage and implementation of AOT laws.

In making the determination, the DOJ’s Office of Justice Programs cited multiple studies showing that court-ordered outpatient treatment “significantly” reduces arrests for violent offenses, other arrests and violent behavior. In one cited study, the combination of a court order for at least six months and outpatient services, the probability of violent behavior was cut in half.

Assisted outpatient treatment utilizes a court order to provide treatment to individuals who meet strict legal criteria, such as repeated psychiatric hospitalization or arrest. Forty-four states and the District of Columbia currently authorize the use of some form of AOT to provide involuntary treatment in the community.

“Researchers in recent years have erased any doubt that assisted outpatient treatment dramatically improves outcomes for people with severe mental illness who struggle to adhere to treatment,” said Treatment Advocacy Center Policy Director Brian Stettin. “The federal government’s recognition of the growing mountain of evidence that AOT reduces crime is most welcome. We hope the determination will encourage more states and communities to fully implement their AOT laws.”

Crime Solutions” is “intended to be a central, reliable and credible resource to help practitioners and policy makers understand what works in justice-related programs and practices” and to “assist in practical decision making and program implementation,” according to the Office of Justice Programs website. The Treatment Advocacy Center is the only national nonprofit focused exclusively on eliminating legal and other barriers to treatment for people with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

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Brian Stettin, Policy Director

Doris A. Fuller, Communications Director
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