A new series of free web-based training modules that provide officers with effective tools for readily recognizing signs of mental illness and interacting with people who may be in crisis has been produced through a partnership between The Guidance Center (a nonprofit child and family mental health service provider) and the Los Angeles Police Department, the Long Beach Police Department, and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Justice and Mental Health Collaboration: Highlights and Successes
“Every time that a law enforcement officer brings someone in and helps get them connected to services instead of taking them to jail, we’ve done one good thing,” said Sara Huffman, clinical director for the county’s crisis service contractor, RHA Health Services.
“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.
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.
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.
Since the mental health court was implemented, everyone who is booked into the Joplin City Jail is given a brief mental health screen, a process that Jail Administrator Shane Dotson said was unprecedented in Joplin prior to the establishment of the mental health court program.
Following in the footsteps of two Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grantees—Olathe and Overland Park, Kansas—11 other cities in Johnson County, Kansas, will partner with the Johnson County Mental Health Center to implement a mental health co-responder program this year.
Two counties—one in Ohio, the other in Utah—are backing their words with action following separate reports from The Council of State Governments Justice Center that highlighted major disparities in the length of time people with serious mental illnesses stay in each county’s local jail and the rate at which they’re rearrested following their release compared to people with out these illnesses.
Megan Younger, a social worker with 16 years of experience in emergency mental health services, has been the designated co-responder embedded in the Overland Park Police Department since May 2014, a position made possible by a Bureau of Justice Assistance Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grant awarded to the City of Overland Park in 2013.
The Family Division of the Berrien County Trial Court in Michigan decided in 2001 that its juvenile justice practices simply weren’t working. That meant restructuring the county’s juvenile justice procedures around evidence-based practices, starting by using risk assessments to determine which youth were more likely to commit another offense and thus required more intensive interventions and supervision.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, Sheriff Jim Winder and District Attorney Sim Gill recently endorsed the recommendations of a just-completed, independent study about the county’s ongoing efforts to reduce recidivism and appropriately divert those with mental illnesses and substance use disorders away from the county jail and into treatment.
31 Days, 31 Stories, a series released during National Mental Health Awareness Month, highlighted champions who are dedicated in their everyday work to reducing the number of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system.
On the heels of the launch of a national initiative to address the mental health crisis in U.S. jails, leaders in Franklin County are planning an overhaul of the way the county responds to people with mental illnesses in contact with the justice system.
“Think of this training as another set of skills to add to your toolkit,” Webb told the class. “These techniques truly are applicable to a variety of groups and situations, and when you encounter a situation, then you have options—you can decide which tool to use.”
Since 2010, the Minnesota Department of Corrections (MN DOC) has partnered with NAMI to implement a CIT program in the state’s prison system to help prison staff respond effectively to people with mental illnesses.
As one of six Law Enforcement–Mental Health learning sites selected by the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), the Madison (WI) Police Department’s Mental Health Liaison Program is an example of how community partners can collaborate to provide police services to people with mental illnesses.
Youth reentering the community after contact with the criminal justice system often have significant mental health and substance abuse needs.
Earlier this year, Bexar County (City of San Antonio), Texas was selected to serve as a County Justice and Behavioral Health Systems Demonstration Site.
The growing number of law enforcement incidents that involve people with mental illnesses has intensified the need for specialized police responses in these situations. Developing such responses is becoming an increasing priority for all of those in public safety and […]
No one needed to tell Hillsborough County Jail Superintendent James O’Mara or New Hampshire District Court Judge James Leary that more people with serious mental illnesses were locked up in the local jail than ever before. What they didn’t know–until they requested an analysis from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) looking at who was admitted to the jail and how long they stayed–was what was driving that growth.
Once officials in Johnson County, Kan., recognized that they faced a major problem with the growing number of people with mental illnesses in the justice system, they were presented with a significant dilemma: How do you design a systemwide response in the absence of reliable data that demonstrates what type of intervention will have the greatest impact?