Outpatient Treatment Reduces Risk of Arrest


A study by researchers at North Carolina State University, the Research Triangle Institute and the University of South Florida followed 4,056 people for seven years who had been hospitalized for mental illness during the period from 2004 to 2005, finding that routine government-subsidized outpatient treatment reduced the likelihood of arrest. Criminal justice and behavioral health system costs were significantly higher, the study found, for those who entered the justice system, indicating a significant savings as a product of investment in behavioral healthcare. Results were published in Psychiatric Services on May 15, 2013.

Abstract →

Van Dorn, R., Desmaris, S., Petrila, J., Haynes, M., Singh, J; Effects of Outpatient Treatment on Risk of Arrest of Adults With Serious Mental Illness and Associated Costs. Psychiatric Services. Online May 15, 2013

Of Further Interest:
Study: Treating mental illness prevents crime, saves taxpayers money (Salon)
Treatment of Mental Illness Lowers Arrest Rates, Saves Money (Science Daily)

Previous articleWe Have a Dream:
Getting Engaged to a Doctor
Next articleRelative Risk of Brain Tissue Loss From Relapse/Antipsychotics
Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Assuming that this methodology and these findings are sound, which admittedly I am not qualified to asses – I don’t think it is a good thing that the likelihood of being arrested was decreased via possession of 90 day drug prescriptions. I am more than qualified to state that when I was taking frontal brain lobe disabling neuroleptics for a schizophrenia label – I was a lot less likely to do much of anything including get arrested.

    Report comment

  2. Good point, Greg. If the goal is to reduce arrests, then why don’t we force drug the entire population? That’ll save some money. Same idea in the hospital: force drug them and they don’t have the spirit to act out. All very scientific, I’m sure.

    Report comment