Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses at the Pretrial Stage: Essential Elements

improving responsesThis publication from the Council of State Governments Justice Center, with support from the Public Welfare Foundation, identifies effective approaches by local criminal justice systems to defendants with mental illnesses and, often, co-occurring substance use disorders at the pretrial stage. The report incorporates the best available research and experience from those in multiple disciplines to articulate seven essential elements that should be included in efforts to improve outcomes for individuals from arrest through case disposition. Beyond planning and implementation of specialized programs, these elements lay the foundation for systemic responses at the pretrial stage. While the application of these elements in different jurisdictions will require many different types of policies or programs, adherence to these elements provides the foundation for a system’s success in improving public safety, public health, and public expenditures, as well as protection of individual rights.