How many people in the Dauphin County Prison have a mental illness? The county doesn’t know. A new initiative the county became a part of recently aims to find the answer to that question and a few others.
County Justice and Behavioral Health Systems
The County Justice and Behavioral Health Improvement Project is a national initiative that uses qualitative and quantitative research to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses in county criminal justice systems throughout the country. The project helps to bring concepts from the CSG Justice Center's Criminogenic Risk and Behavioral Health Needs Framework to local criminal justice systems that want to improve their responses to individuals with mental health needs, many of whom also have a co-occurring substance use disorder.
On March 15, 2013, the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and the National Institute of Corrections (NIC) hosted leaders from the fields of criminal justice and behavioral health from 70 nonprofit, association, and advocacy organizations. The summit highlighted the substantial progress in improving outcomes for individuals with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system.
To position counties for consideration as demonstration sites, county leadership should provide the CSG Justice Center with:
- Written support for the project and for collecting and analyzing criminal justice and behavioral health data from county agencies
- Evidence that the appropriate data is available to develop an indicator of behavioral needs for individuals in the criminal justice system
- Commitment to assist with convening, and participation in, county leadership team meetings
Leaders in Dauphin County, Pennsylvania, recently launched a data-driven project as part of the national Stepping Up initiative, seeking to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders in the county prison.
With help from the nonprofit Council of State Governments Justice Center, Dauphin County, Pennsylvania will participate in Stepping Up, a national initiative aimed at lowering the number of people with mental illnesses in jails.