Courts Posts

Congress Approves FY18 Funding Levels for Criminal Justice Programs

Congress Approves FY18 Funding Levels for Criminal Justice Programs

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.

National Association of Attorneys General Highlights Hawaii’s Victim Restitution Revamp

National Association of Attorneys General Highlights Hawaii’s Victim Restitution Revamp

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.”

Megan Quattlebaum Named Director of the CSG Justice Center

Megan Quattlebaum Named Director of the CSG Justice Center

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.

North Dakota Judge Supports Shift in Treatment for the State’s Criminal Justice Population

North Dakota Judge Supports Shift in Treatment for the State’s Criminal Justice Population

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.

Judge Steven Leifman Named A ‘Public Official of the Year’

Judge Steven Leifman Named A ‘Public Official of the Year’

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.

Q&A with Utah’s Assistant State Courts Administrator Richard Schwermer

Q&A with Utah’s Assistant State Courts Administrator Richard Schwermer

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.

Two Counties Use Online Mental Health Court Curriculum to Work Toward Program Sustainability

Two Counties Use Online Mental Health Court Curriculum to Work Toward Program Sustainability

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.

A Message from The CSG Justice Center’s Executive Committee Chair and Vice-Chair

A Message from The CSG Justice Center’s Executive Committee Chair and Vice-Chair

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.

State Standards: Building Better Mental Health Courts

State Standards: Building Better Mental Health Courts

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.

Q&A with Julian Adler of the Red Hook Community Justice Center

Q&A with Julian Adler of the Red Hook Community Justice Center

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.

DC Courts Are Connecting Individuals with On-Site Treatment

DC Courts Are Connecting Individuals with On-Site Treatment

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.

Salt Lake County Launches Study of Criminal Justice System

Salt Lake County Launches Study of Criminal Justice System

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.

Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Grant Recipients Convene for Orientation and Training

Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Grant Recipients Convene for Orientation and Training

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.

2014 State-of-the-States

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 […]

The Utah Association of Counties Explores Solutions to Reduce Recidivism

The Utah Association of Counties Explores Solutions to Reduce Recidivism

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 […]

Mental Health Court Curriculum Highlighted at Alabama Event

Mental Health Court Curriculum Highlighted at Alabama Event

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.

Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change Resource Center

Mental Health and Juvenile Justice Collaborative for Change Resource Center

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.

State-Level Trainers Learn To Use the Mental Health Court Curriculum

State-Level Trainers Learn To Use the Mental Health Court Curriculum

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.

Smarter Sentencing

Smarter Sentencing

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 […]

Webinar: Trapped: The Effects of Criminal Debt on Reentry

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 […]

CSG Justice Center Resource Spotlight

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 […]

Global Youth Justice Launches 250 Youth Court Websites

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 […]

New Mental Health Court Standards Training in Georgia

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 […]

Documenting Impact and Ensuring Sustainability

Documenting Impact and Ensuring Sustainability

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 […]

Beyond Mental Health Courts: Innovative Programs from Around the Country

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 […]

Understanding Risk Assessment and Its Applications

Understanding Risk Assessment and Its Applications

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 […]

Recovery-Oriented Criminal Justice Programming

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 […]

Information Sharing between Mental Health and Criminal Justice Agencies

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 […]

States Take Steps to Reduce the Prosecution of Youth in the Adult Criminal Justice System

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.

Illinois Launches Center of Excellence for Behavioral Health and Justice

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.

Congressional Staff Briefed on Law Enforcement Responses to People with Mental Illnesses

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.

New JMHCP Grantees Convene for Orientation and Training

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.

FY2011 JMHCP Grantee Orientation Event Agenda: March 8-9, 2012

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, […]

Sites Selected to Pilot New Mental Health Court Curriculum

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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Judges and Psychiatrists Partner to Deliver Training in Illinois on Individuals with Mental Illnesses in the Courts

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.

Spotlight on JMHCP: State of Alabama

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.

Project Summary:

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.

Spotlight on JMHCP: Judiciary of Guam

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.

Program Summary

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.

New Approaches to Veterans Involved in the Criminal Justice System

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.

New Guide for Policymakers and Practitioners Detailing the Available Research on the Design, Function, and Efficacy of Mental Health Courts

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.

JMHCP Spotlight: Kalamazoo, Michigan

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.

Legislative Roundup: State Governments Tackle Mental Health and Criminal Justice Issues

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

Legislative Round Up: State Governments Tackle Mental Health and Criminal Justice Issues

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.

Hurricane Katrina and the Orleans Parish Mental Health Court

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.

Spotlight: Statewide Initiatives

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.