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In ‘Cures’ Bill, Keys to Further Criminal Justice Improvements

In ‘Cures’ Bill, Keys to Further Criminal Justice Improvements

Before the confetti is swept up in celebration of the President’s signing of the 21st Century Cures Act, let’s make sure an important takeaway isn’t lost in the fanfare: this bipartisan bill also illustrates the type of improvements to the criminal justice system everyone can get behind.

President Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act

President Obama Signs 21st Century Cures Act

President Barack Obama signed the 21st Century Cures Act on Tuesday, December 13, after it passed the House and Senate with bipartisan support, signaling an effort to address the nation’s challenges with mental health in the criminal justice system, among other medical priorities.

U.S. Senate Approves 21st Century Cures Act

U.S. Senate Approves 21st Century Cures Act

Within the wide range of initiatives the omnibus bill supports are several significant criminal justice reform measures related to the issue of mental health, including the enactment of the Comprehensive Justice and Mental Health Act and the reauthorization of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act.

New England Conference Highlights Regional Approach to Reentry

New England Conference Highlights Regional Approach to Reentry

The conference, which was hosted by United States attorneys of the six New England Districts—Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine—uplifted the region’s approach to reentry efforts. Rather than focusing on individual locales, service providers, policymakers, and correctional agencies throughout New England collaborate to ensure a unified approach.

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.

Medication-Assisted Treatment: Federal Investment and Local Implementation

Medication-Assisted Treatment: Federal Investment and Local Implementation

“[These] actions represent further steps to expand access to treatment, prevent overdose deaths, and increase community prevention strategies,” said the Obama Administration in an announcement in March. “These actions build on the president’s proposal for $1.1 billion in new funding to help every American with an opioid use disorder who wants treatment get the help they need.

Hamilton Project Panel Stresses Importance of Reentry Programs

Hamilton Project Panel Stresses Importance of Reentry Programs

Individual panelists offered differing perspectives on what work needs to be done to reduce recidivism, but the group agreed that there are a number of straightforward, nonpartisan measures that state and local governments can adopt in order to reduce recidivism and increase public safety.

BJA Launches Police-Mental Health Collaboration Toolkit at National Conference

BJA Launches Police-Mental Health Collaboration Toolkit at National Conference

Highlighting the role of police departments in advancing these approaches, BJA announced the Police-Mental Health Collaboration (PMHC) Toolkit at the 2016 International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in San Diego, California. The PMHC Toolkit was developed in partnership with The Council of State Governments Justice Center and gathers best practices and resources to help law enforcement agencies partner with mental health providers to respond appropriately and safely to people with mental illnesses.

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.

When Police Deal with People Who Have Mental Health Issues

When Police Deal with People Who Have Mental Health Issues

You’ve undoubtedly heard about the recent report issued by the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice condemning various police practices in Baltimore. What has gone largely unmentioned, however, is the report’s detailed review of how encounters between police and people with mental illnesses result in “unnecessarily violent confrontations.”

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.

Franklin County, Salt Lake County Each Allocate Millions to Improve Local Jail Systems

Franklin County, Salt Lake County Each Allocate Millions to Improve Local Jail Systems

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.

A Second Chance at Recovery for Women in Wilmington, North Carolina

RESET, which is funded by a 2014 Second Chance Act grant, is a six-month program designed specifically for women and implemented through a partnership between a residential reentry center and a nonprofit behavioral health agency. A typical participant in RESET has a co-occurring substance use and mental disorder and a moderate- to high-risk of committing another crime.

Berrien County, MI, Expands Training, Collaboration Around Juvenile Justice

Berrien County, MI, Expands Training, Collaboration Around Juvenile Justice

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.

Bexar County Awarded Grant to Provide Attorneys to People with Mental Illnesses

Bexar County Awarded Grant to Provide Attorneys to People with Mental Illnesses

The Texas Indigent Defense Commission—chaired by Sharon Keller, presiding judge on the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals—unanimously approved a $600,000 grant to be dispersed over four years for the Bexar County (San Antonio) Public Defender’s Office to provide attorneys at the initial court hearings of people who are indigent and have mental illnesses.

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.

Seeking Advances in Risk Communication

Seeking Advances in Risk Communication

In December, the National Reentry Resource Center and Dr. R. Karl Hanson and Dr. Guy Bourgon of Public Safety Canada hosted a second convening in a series of meetings focused on instituting a common language for improved risk communication.

Law Enforcement, Health Advocates, and Members of Congress Push to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails

Law Enforcement, Health Advocates, and Members of Congress Push to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails

Programs that can help reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails, ranging from police training to certified peer support, are the basis for a new wave of national efforts highlighted Tuesday as Congressional leaders joined the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the National Association of Counties (NACo) to discuss potential federal reforms and a new national initiative driven by the two organizations.

Congress Funds Key Criminal Justice Programs

Congress Funds Key Criminal Justice Programs

Congress funded three key programs championed by the Council of State Governments Justice Center as part of an appropriations bill that provided $26.7 billion to support U.S. Department of Justice programs.

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.

BJA Director Delivers Statement at Senate Hearing on Law Enforcement Responses to Americans with Mental Illnesses and Disabilities

BJA Director Delivers Statement at Senate Hearing on Law Enforcement Responses to Americans with Mental Illnesses and Disabilities

At the April 29th hearing—“Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety”—Director Denise O’Donnell of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) delivered statements about the department’s support for evidence-based practices and promising interventions for individuals with mental illnesses and/or disabilities who are involved with the justice system.

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.

House Passes Bill Funding Key Justice Programs

House Passes Bill Funding Key Justice Programs

Today, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) 2015 federal spending bill that funds Department of Justice (DOJ) programs. The bill provides $27.8 billion for DOJ programs in FY2015, an increase of $383 million over current spending.

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 […]

Kansas Increases Access to Behavioral Health Services for People on Community Supervision

Kansas Increases Access to Behavioral Health Services for People on Community Supervision

As part of implementing the state’s justice reinvestment legislation, which Governor Sam Brownback signed into law in May 2013, Kansas has allocated this upfront “reinvestment” to hire 40 experienced service providers in community corrections departments and community-based organizations throughout Kansas to increase access to behavioral health treatment for people on probation.

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.

Congress Unveils Bill Funding Key Justice Programs

On January 13, 2014 the House and Senate appropriators released the $1 trillion omnibus federal spending package, which includes a $51.6 billion Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill.

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.

Symposium on the Affordable Care Act and Criminal Justice

Symposium on the Affordable Care Act and Criminal Justice

Amy Solomon, Senior Advisor to the Assistant Attorney General in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs, participated in a symposium on “Health Behind Bars” in New York on October 21-22.

MentalHealth.gov Launched

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has announced the launch of MentalHealth.gov, an online resource about mental health. This website provides information about the signs of mental illness, how individuals can seek help, and how […]

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 […]

Making the Connection: Engaging with Consumers, Families and Advocates

Partnering with advocacy groups that represent people living with mental illness and their families can broaden the impact of a program, help ensure long-term sustainability and provide surprising resources and support. This workshop will address the benefits of working with […]

Case Management for High Risk/High Needs Individuals

This session will focus on case management models that can appropriately serve the behavioral health needs of high needs participants. Practitioners will also learn how evidence-based practices (EBPs) associated with positive public safety outcomes can be integrated into case management […]