Michael P. Boggs, a Georgia Supreme Court justice, has been appointed chair of The Council of State Governments Justice Center’s Advisory Board.
I arrived at the CSG Justice Center aware that the field of criminal justice has changed dramatically since our inception in 2007, presenting our organization and others with new challenges and exciting opportunities. As we entered our second decade, I felt that we first needed to be sure we understand who we are, what we stand for, and how we fit into this growing field.
At a recent North Dakota Justice Reinvestment Oversight Committee meeting, CSG Justice Center staff highlighted recent decreases in prison admissions that resulted from alcohol and drug offenses and probation revocations. These declines seem to be the cause of a 6.5-percent drop in the state’s total prison population in FY2018, which exceeded expectations, and have reinforced the state’s efforts to increase behavioral health services for people in the criminal justice system.
CSG Justice Center staff spoke with four Second Chance Act Innovations in Reentry Initiative grantees about their experiences fostering effective partnerships between criminal justice practitioners and the researchers evaluating their programs. These programs span the country and the justice system, serving clients within courts, prisons, jails, and in the community.
“Part of the success of this has been an openness to identifying how we can do things differently in our community when it comes to mental health care and the criminal justice system,” said Paula Verrett, a NAMI recovery specialist who has worked directly with the OCMHC since its inception.
Recently, the U.S. Congress approved the $1.3 trillion Fiscal Year 2018 Omnibus Appropriations bill that would set government funding through Sep. 30, 2018. The bill provides $30.3 billion for the Department of Justice and includes $2.9 billion for various state and local law enforcement assistance grant programs.
Victim restitution can be a vitally important part of a crime victim’s recovery, yet is often poorly understood and managed by states. Very few states have been able to show substantial progress in improving restitution, but Hawaii has done so and has the data to prove it. This success story was highlighted at the National Association of Attorneys General annual winter meeting in February in Washington, DC, in the panel discussion “Helping Crime Victims Recover from Financial Losses.”
The Council of State Governments (CSG) recently announced that Megan Quattlebaum, research scholar in law at Yale University Law School and lecturer in law at Columbia University Law School, will be the next director of The CSG Justice Center.
The Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative released Practical Considerations Related to Release and Sentencing for Defendants Who Have Behavioral Health Needs: A Judicial Guide and an accompanying bench card, resources designed to assist judges in making informed connections to treatment for people who have behavioral health needs that enter their courts.
JPLI released a primer developed for psychiatrists to better understand the principles of the Risk-Need-Responsivity (RNR) model and address the forensic needs of patients who have serious mental illnesses (SMIs) and a criminal justice history.
North Dakota Presiding District Court Judge Frank Racek is calling for state leaders to work together to transform the current system for delivering community-based services to people in the criminal justice system to one that follows risk, needs, and responsivity principles. Judge Racek argues that the system for delivering rehabilitative treatment must focus on people’s individual criminogenic needs; assess people promptly to help inform decisions and create action plans; respond to program participants’ setbacks appropriately; and, evaluate programs regularly to ensure that they’re effective.
Kicking off #MentalHealthMonth on May 1, judges and psychiatrists from across the country gathered with people with mental illnesses and their family members to discuss the place where their lives often intersect—the criminal justice system.
Stepping Up: The California Summit hosted teams representing 52 of the state’s 58 counties to discuss the crisis of mental illness in jails, which plagues communities across the nation.
Judge Steven Leifman of Miami-Dade County, Florida was recently named “Public Official of the Year” by Governing magazine for his commitment to addressing the high prevalence of mental illness among people in the criminal justice system.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center talked to Richard Schwermer, Utah’s assistant state courts administrator, about mental health courts in his state and his use of Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum, the CSG Justice Center’s free online multimedia curriculum for people and teams seeking to start, maintain, or learn about mental health courts.
For many jurisdictions, sustaining a mental health court program can prove challenging both monetarily and in terms of staff capacity. Grant funding often provides the seed money to plan or launch a mental health court. But obtaining additional funds to keep the program running once grants run out requires leveraging other funding streams and maintaining strong partnerships with stakeholders.
The tragedies of the past week weigh heavily on us. As public safety officials in our respective states, we were outraged to see the very people working to protect the public murdered because of the uniform they wear. We also feel deeply for residents of communities who, because of the color of their skin, fear the people who have sworn an oath to protect them.
As formal “mental health courts” (MHCs) enter their third decade in existence, policymakers are increasingly looking to distill the best of research and practice into state standards that foster high-quality programing and accountability for MHCs in their states.
As the nation’s first multijurisdictional community court, the Red Hook Community Justice Center in Brooklyn has served as a neighborhood hub for clinical services, community service, youth programs, and other social supports since its founding in 2000.
Having an urgent care clinic located only feet away from courtrooms allows judges and court staff to guarantee that people have access to services. For many defendants, this may be the first contact they’ve had with a mental health professional. Moreover, for some, this treatment may well reduce the likelihood that they will be arrested in the future.
According to a 2014 national public opinion poll by The Pew Charitable Trusts, a majority of Americans support the use of alternatives to incarceration for youth who have committed low-level offenses.
Congress took a significant first step toward continuing the work of the Second Chance Act today as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to reauthorize the bipartisan bill.
The Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC) today announced plans for a comprehensive analysis of Salt Lake County’s jail population in an effort to identify ways to reduce reoffense rates among people released from jail and design strategies to improve outcomes for the large portion of the jail population struggling with mental and/or substance use disorders.
To help federal grant recipients learn how to develop successful criminal justice and mental health collaborations, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, with support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, hosted its fifth annual training and orientation conference, “Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery” on May 13–14 in National Harbor, Maryland.
In state-of-the-state addresses across the country this year, governors noted significant improvements to their states’ criminal justice systems. No longer solely focused on imposing tougher penalties for all crimes, states are increasingly making efforts to strengthen community supervision and use […]
By Will Engelhardt, Policy Analyst In January 2014, the Utah Association of Counties invited national experts to lead a training event on recidivism reduction for its members. Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center) Director Michael Thompson and […]
On February 12, 2014, Council of State Governments Justice Center staff led two training sessions on the Mental Health Court Curriculum at the Alabama Association of Drug Court Professionals Annual Training event in Montgomery.
This new online resource center from the National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice at Policy Research Inc. offers a collection of resources that focus on the following topics: mental health screening, diversion models, mental health training for juvenile justice staff and police, evidence-based practices, family involvement, and juvenile competency.
In October 2013, 104 government agencies and nonprofit organizations across the country were awarded grants through the Second Chance Act to help improve the outcomes for and reduce recidivism among individuals leaving prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.
On January 16, 2014 Congress passed the $1 trillion omnibus federal spending package, which includes a $51.6 billion Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill. Under this bill, the Second Chance Act would receive $67.7 million in funding, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) would receive $8.2 million, and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative would receive $27.5 million, which includes $1 million for the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections.
On October 22, 2013, about 200 Oregon judges took part in the training module Judicial Work at the Interface of Mental Health & Criminal Justice in Gleneden Beach, Oregon.
Charged with supporting and providing technical assistance to problem-solving courts in their states, a group of state-level trainers came together last month for a train-the-trainer event on how to use Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum—a free, online curriculum that offers research and best practices on designing and implementing mental health courts.
Earlier this year, Bexar County (City of San Antonio), Texas was selected to serve as a County Justice and Behavioral Health Systems Demonstration Site.
This video series from the Justice Management Institute provides a brief overview of sentencing and corrections in the U.S., the Risk-Need-Responsivity principles, and the characteristics of effective change management efforts. The series can be used as an introduction to the […]
On September 12, 2013, the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, and the Illinois Asset Building Group cosponsored a webinar exploring criminal defendant/prisoner debt in the U.S. and […]
By Jacqueline Cheney, Policy Analyst How do practitioners bridge the gap between policy and practice? In June 2013, the CSG Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation convened a group of experts in New York City to discuss judicial applications […]
The research on mental health courts is constantly growing and evolving, and it can be challenging for practitioners who are busy running programs to stay on top of the latest developments. With over 4,000 problem-solving court practitioners in attendance, the […]
Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum Introduction to Behavioral Health Developing a Mental Health Court is a free multimedia curriculum with the information teams need to plan, implement, sustain, or simply learn about mental health courts based on […]
In conjunction with the American Bar Association, Global Youth Justice recently helped local youth courts in 41 states launch websites to promote their juvenile justice diversion programs. More than 1,400 communities and tribes worldwide currently operate a youth justice program […]
On May 21-22, 2013, nearly 170 mental health court team members from 22 programs from around the state attended the “2013 Georgia Mental Health Courts: Applying New Standards in Atlanta” training. The Judicial Council of Georgia, the policy-making arm of […]
An article by CSG Justice Center Senior Legal and Policy Advisor and former Director of the Texas Office of Court Administration Carl Reynolds appeared in the Spring 2013 edition of the National Association for Court Management’s (NACM) Court Express newsletter. It describes […]
This presentation was delivered at the 2013 JMHCP National Training and Technical Assistance Event. It should be a priority for programs to collect data in order to measure impact and demonstrate the value of sustained funding. This session begins by describing how […]
Interested in policies and programs to improve outcomes for individuals with mental illnesses involved with the criminal justice system but think your only option is to start a mental health court? This session will introduce innovative programs focused on identifying […]
This presentation was delivered at the 2013 JMHCP National Training and Technical Assistance Event. Courts or parole boards sometimes assign individuals to supervision and community-based services according to crime categories (e.g., violent, nonviolent, or drug-related) and not objective assessments of a person’s […]
Making a plan for addressing the needs of individuals with mental illnesses across a whole system at multiple intercept points based on the latest research requires more than an internet search and a whiteboard. This winter, New York City announced […]
Recovery is defined by SAMHSA as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” Practitioners are increasingly working to make collaborative criminal justice and behavioral […]
This presentation was delivered at the 2013 JMHCP National Training and Technical Assistance Event. By focusing on individuals with moderate to high criminogenic risk levels and serious behavioral health needs, mental health courts can position themselves to affect the greatest […]
This session will discuss some of the information sharing challenges encountered by jurisdictions seeking to develop and implement criminal justice and behavioral health collaboration programs. Specific topics will include an overview of legal considerations, different practitioner perspectives, and the strategies […]
During his 12 years at PERF, Jerry also authored and co-authored numerous publications and guides for law enforcement officials.
A new national survey released by Gerstein, Bocian, Agne Strategies reveals that the majority of Americans support youth justice system reform. The study, which surveyed 1,000 adults from across the nation, shows that the public would support juvenile justice reform efforts that focus on rigorous rehabilitation over incarceration and against placing youth in adult jails and prisons.
Highlights of the survey include:
- The public strongly favors rehabilitation and treatment approaches, such as counseling, education, treatment, restitution, and community service (89%);
- The public rejects placement of youth in adult jails and prisons (69%);
- Americans strongly favor involving the youth’s families in treatment (86%), keeping youth close to home (77%), and ensuring that youth are connected with their families (86%);
- The public strongly favors individualized determinations on a case-by-case basis by juvenile court judges in the juvenile justice system over automatic prosecution in adult criminal court (76%);
- Americans support requiring the juvenile justice system to reduce racial and ethnic disparities (66%);
These results are consistent with U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studies that have concluded that juvenile transfer laws, which allow state courts to move youth to the adult system for trying and sentencing, are ineffective at deterring crime and reducing recidivism.
On Thursday June 7th, the Illinois Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health and Justice celebrated its official opening at the University of Illinois, College of Medicine at Rockford. The Illinois Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health and Justice will equip communities across the state to respond appropriately to the needs of people with behavioral health disorders who are involved in the criminal justice system. The Center of Excellence will provide technical assistance, resources, and training to improve justice system responses to individuals with mental health and/or substance use disorders. Specifically, the Center of Excellence will contact counties and judicial circuits to provide evidence-based training; coordination and implementation assistance to create mental health courts, drug courts, and veterans’ courts; and alternatives to incarceration. The Center will also help train treatment providers to deal with the unique needs of individuals involved in the criminal justice system.
Washington, D.C. — Law enforcement officials, judicial leaders, and behavioral health experts came together on March 6 to brief Congressional staff on the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) and the collaborative criminal justice-mental health programs that it supports. Dr. Fred Osherof the Council of State Governments Justice Center, Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County (MD) Department of Police, Inspector Bryan Schafer of the Minneapolis (MN) Police Department, and Judge Steven Leifman of Miami-Dade County Court spoke to key stakeholders and staff from numerous congressional offices, representing members of both parties.
As some of the nation’s foremost experts on implementing collaborative criminal justice-mental health programs, the panelists each shared their perspectives and/or experiences. Their testimonies underscored the fact that programs supported by MIOTCRA and similar grant initiatives are contributing in significant ways towards ending the cycles of arrest and incarceration for people with mental illnesses.
On March 8-9, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, in conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, hosted the fourth annual orientation event for new Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) grantees in Washington, D.C. During the event, FY 2011 grantees learned about keys to success in developing successful criminal justice/mental health collaborations, as well as the requirements of the grant program.
Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C. To download a PDF of the agenda, click here. THURSDAY, MARCH 8th 8:00 am – 8:30 am Check-in and Registration [Empire Foyer] 8:30 am – 9:15 am Welcome and Introductions [Empire Ballroom] • Ruby Qazilbash, […]
The Council of State Governments Justice Center has identified four jurisdictions to serve as “pilot sites” for its forthcoming curriculum for practitioners interested in developing mental health courts. Stakeholders from the pilot jurisdictions will use an advance version of the course, which includes online presentations and group activities, and participate in focus groups throughout the fall and winter to help authors finalize it for broad release. The Justice Center will release the final version of the curriculum online–where users can access it for free–in spring 2012.
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The Judges’ Criminal Justice/Mental Health Leadership Initiative (JLI) recently partnered with the newly formed Psychiatric Leadership Group (PLG) to design a training on effectively identifying and managing individuals with mental illnesses in the courts. The two groups collaborated with the Administrative Office of Illinois Courts (AOIC) to train over 60 Illinois judges this May in Springfield.
Each month, the Justice Center spotlights high-quality collaborative criminal justice/mental health initiatives that have received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). Justice Center staff members ask the practitioners in these programs to discuss some successes and challenges they have encountered in the planning and implementation process. This month’s profile is from the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts, a 2009 planning and implementation grantee.
The Alabama JMHCP project aims to build capacity for state-level training and technical assistance for jurisdictions interested in or already operating mental health courts or mental health diversion programs. On October 13–15, 2010, the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Alabama Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) hosted the first Alabama Mental Health Court Conference. John Houston, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health (DMH), and Callie T. Dietz, administrative director of courts, opened the conference by stressing the importance of cross-system collaboration in times of jail and prison overcrowding and diminishing resources. About 150 judges, attorneys, treatment providers, and community corrections officers from around the state participated in two-and-a-half days of presentations and breakout sessions led by national experts and practitioners from existing Alabama mental health courts. The conference agenda is available here.
In the next year, the Alabama grantees will prepare for a second conference scheduled for the fall of 2011, continue development of a technical assistance “toolkit” that will include sample forms and access to existing state and national resources, and develop suggestions for standardized data collection across Alabaman mental health courts.
A new study by the Texas Task Force on Indigent Defense (TFID), Representing the Mentally Ill Offender , found positive criminal justice and treatment outcomes for participants in mental health courts (MHCs) and defendants served by mental health public defender’s offices (MHPDs).
Each month the Justice Center spotlights collaborative criminal justice/mental health initiatives that have received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). Justice Center staff members ask the practitioners in these programs to discuss some successes and challenges they have encountered in the planning and implementation process. This month’s profile is from the Judiciary of Guam, a 2008 Planning and Implementation grantee.
Guam, a United States territory in the Western Pacific, received a JMHCP planning and implementation grant in 2008 to develop a mental health court. The Judiciary of Guam and the Guam Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (DMHSA) collaborated in a planning process that led to the opening of the Guam Mental Health Court (Guam MHC) in May 2009. The Guam MHC targets adult offenders with serious mental illnesses or developmental disabilities who are charged with nonviolent crimes and express interest in treatment. The court provides much-needed structure for, and coordination of, mental health and substance use services in a jurisdiction with limited health care resources.
With a growing awareness of the mental health problems facing many recent U.S. Armed Services veterans and some evidence of its impact on their involvement with the criminal justice system, there is increasing interest in the field in diversion programs that particularly address veterans’ concerns. In response to this interest, the Justice Center has compiled the brief summary below of some of the new programs and initiatives targeting veterans with mental health conditions involved with the justice system.
The Council of State Governments Justice Center announced the release of Mental Health Courts: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice. The guide examines available studies on mental health courts and translates the findings to help policymakers and practitioners understand their design and function, as well as their success. Supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the guide reviews how mental health courts address the issues related to people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system.
Each month the Justice Center spotlights collaborative criminal justice/mental health initiatives that have received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). Center staff ask the practitioners in these programs to discuss some successes and challenges they have encountered in the planning and implementation process. This month’s profile is from the Kalamazoo Mental Health Court.
From a new court rule in Idaho that expands the reach of mental health courts to enhanced mental health training requirements for police officers in Indiana and Oklahoma, state legislatures across the country continued to prioritize criminal justice and mental health issues throughout 2008. The Justice Center has compiled a list of several state laws that passed in 2008 focused on individuals with mental illnesses involved in the criminal justice system
State governments across the country are engaged in a wide range of legislative and budgetary efforts to improve the response to individuals with mental illnesses in contact with–or are at risk of contact with–the criminal justice system. Council of State Governments Justice Center (Justice Center) staff have identified a sampling of diverse state-level approaches to addressing criminal justice/mental health issues that have been signed into law over the past two years.
Just a few months ago, staff and case managers at the Orleans Parish Mental Health Court (MHC) were collecting outcome data and exploring ways to increase the court’s capacity beyond 100 participants. Today, using an office in Baton Rouge as their temporary headquarters, staff are scattered across the region searching for court participants displaced by Hurricane Katrina, wondering when they might return to their Tulane Avenue courthouse and offices.
Programs that improve outcomes for people involved with the criminal justice and mental health systems typically originate at the local level. But sooner or later, statewide coordination and leadership are needed to sustain and promote these innovative local efforts.