New study shows Assisted Outpatient Treatment (Kendra’s Law) reduces arrests.
Arrest Outcomes Associated With Outpatient Commitment in New York State
Bruce G. Link, Ph.D. Matthew W. Epperson, Ph.D. Brian E. Perron, Ph.D. Dorothy M. Castille, Ph.D. Lawrence H. Yang, Ph.D.
Published May 2011 in Psychiatric Services Vol. 62 No. 5 ( (Psychiatric Services 62:504–508, 2011)
OBJECTIVE: This study examined whether assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) under New York’s “Kendra’s Law” is associated with reduced arrests for violent and nonviolent offenses.
METHODS: Arrest records of 183 study participants attending outpatient clinics in New York City, 86 of whom were ever and 97 of whom were never assigned to AOT, were compiled to yield 16,890 months of observation. For each month the data indicated whether an arrest did or did not occur and whether a participant was or was not assigned to AOT. Generalized estimating equations and fixed-effects analyses were used to compare arrest rates within different periods (before, during or shortly after, and more than six months after) for those ever assigned and between the ever- and never-assigned groups.
Main findings: Arrests Reduced
RESULTS: For those who received AOT, the odds of any arrest were 2.66 times greater (p<.01) and the odds of arrest for a violent offense 8.61 times greater (p<.05) before AOT than they were in the period during and shortly after AOT. The group never receiving AOT had nearly double the odds (1.91, p<.05) of arrest compared with the AOT group in the period during and shortly after assignment
We found AOT to be associated with a sizeable reduction in the probability of arrest for both overall and violent offenses. Before assignment, individuals who would later be enrolled in AOT were substantially more likely than the same individuals while receiving AOT to experience arrest for both overall and violent offenses. In addition, we found that while individuals were enrolled in AOT the risk of arrest was actually lower than that of a comparison group of individuals never assigned to AOT and that the risk of arrest after AOT ended re- mained significantly lower than the risk in the period before AOT began.
AOT, as implemented under Kendra’s Law in New York State, is a policy that substantially reduces the risk of arrest, including arrests for violent offenses among people with serious mental illnesses. From the vantage point of a general public concerned with violence and who hold prevalent perceptions of dangerousness concerning people with mental illnesses (14,15), this is a very positive and straightforward outcome: Kendra’s Law directly results in reduced crime and violence. In addition, the result pushes us to consider a very beneficial trade-off in coercion, with a relatively small exposure under Kendra’s Law forestalling a substantially larger exposure delivered by arrest. Our results can be read as an indication that both the general public and people assigned to AOT benefit—the former through a reduction in crime and violence and the latter through a reduction in experienced coercion and all of its untoward consequences.