Given the absence of a central registry of MHCs, we undertook a project to identify and characterize the existing adult and juvenile MHCs in the United States. We began by examining lists compiled by such organizations as the National Center for State Courts and then turned to each state government Web site (for example, “.gov” and “.state.us”), where MHCs were often listed. As needed, we contacted an individual at the state court administrator’s office to obtain additional information. It is possible that despite these efforts, we did not locate every MHC that is currently operating, but we believe that we came close to this goal.
Our study identified 346 adult MHCs and 51 juvenile MHCs currently operating in the United States. (More than 2,700 adult and juvenile drug courts are currently in operation, according to the National Association of Drug Court Professionals [www.nadcp.org]). As recently as 2003, there were fewer than 75 adult MHCs, which illustrates the decade-long growth of these specialty dockets and courts. Nearly all states have at least one adult MHC, and some states—for example, California, Florida, New York, and Ohio—have many. Of interest, these four states are also among the jurisdictions with the highest number of drug courts. Six states have no MHCs—Arkansas, Connecticut, Nebraska, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and Wyoming; however, all six of these states have drug courts. Some states provide guidelines and technical assistance for treatment courts, including MHCs. Ohio has recently adopted standards for certification of its MHCs, a requirement for continued state-level assistance. Although MHCs tend to coexist with drug courts, they lack the diverse funding stream of most drug courts, which are supported by a combination of federal, state, local, and grant monies. MHCs may receive some state funds in larger states, such as California and Ohio, but most are funded through court budgets, local agencies, or grants. [A complete list of the 346 adult and 51 juvenile MHCs can be found on the GAINS Center Web site (gainscenter.samhsa.gov). No information could be located for MHCs in the nine U.S. Territories.]