Introduction to Criminal Justice

Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.

Introduction to Criminal Justice provides a basic overview of the criminal justice system for behavioral health professionals working in a mental health court to help them understand how the program is likely to impact their clients.

Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the common stakeholders in the criminal justice system
  2. Understand how a criminal case proceeds through a typical criminal justice system
  3. Understand certain legal concepts, types of cases, and principles for recidivism reduction

Presentation


Introduction to Criminal Justice
Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum is a free online multimedia curriculum for individuals and teams seeking to start, maintain, or just learn about mental health courts.

Additional Resources

Policy and Practice Guides

Casey, Pamela M., Roger K. Warren, and Jennifer K. Elek. Using Offender Risk and Needs Assessment Information at Sentencing: Observations from Ten Jurisdictions. Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 2015. This publication overviews validated risk and needs assessment instruments and offers guidance to help judges and others involved in the sentencing decision understand how to incorporate risk and needs assessment information into their decision making process.
Available here

Council of State Governments Justice Center. Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2002. This publication provides policymakers and criminal justice and mental health professionals with recommendations and strategies to improve the criminal justice system’s response to people with mental illnesses.
Available here

“Criminal Justice System Flowchart.” U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Developed by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, this flowchart illustrates the case process and sequence of events in the criminal justice system.
Available here

Fabelo, Tony, Geraldine Nagy, and Seth Prins. A Ten-Step Guide to Transforming Probation Departments to Reduce Recidivism. Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2011. The ten steps outlined in the guide help probation officials refocus the agency toward reducing crime and re-offense rates among probationers and provides an action plan for realizing the practices of recidivism reduction.
Available here

Justice Management Institute. Research-Based Smarter Sentencing: Participant Notebook. Denver, CO: Justice Management Institute, n.d. This template provides specialty court practitioners with resources to plan and incorporate evidence-based practices into treatment and case plans.
Available here

D’Amora, David. “The Right Interventions: What Works to Reduce Recidivism for Individuals with Mental Illnesses.” Presentation at the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program National Training and Technical Assistance Event, Washington, DC, February 28, 2013. This presentation presents an overview of evidence-based practices associated with positive public health and public safety outcomes and describes the application of these practices to justice-involved individuals with mental illnesses.
Available here

Massaro, Jackie. Working with People with Mental Illness Involved in the Criminal Justice System: What Mental Health Service Providers Need to Know. 2nd ed. Delmar, NY: Technical Assistance and Policy Analysis Center for Jail Diversion, 2004. This guide was developed to assist behavioral health and criminal justice professionals who serve persons with mental illnesses involved in the criminal justice system.
Available here

National Institute of Corrections, Box Set: Evidence-Based Principles for Reducing Offender Risk. This website hosts a series of papers that were developed to focus on evidence-based principles in the following areas: community corrections, treatment providers, pretrial services, judiciary, prosecutors, defense attorneys, jails and detention facilities, and prisons.
Available here

Prins, Seth J., and Fred C. Osher. Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of Specialized Probation Initiatives. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2009. This publication identifies ten key components found in successful initiatives to improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses under probation supervision.
Available here

Prins, Seth J., and Laura Draper. Improving Outcomes for People with Mental Illnesses under Community Corrections Supervision: A Guide to Research-Informed Policy and Practice. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2009. This document reviews the body of research on community corrections supervision for people with mental illnesses and translates the findings to help officials develop effective interventions.
Available here

Osher, Fred, David A. D’Amora, Martha Plotkin, Nicole Jarrett, and Alexa Eggleston. Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2012. This publication introduces criminal justice and behavioral health practitioners to an evidence-based framework for prioritizing scarce resources based on assessments of individuals’ risk of committing a future crime and their treatment needs.
Available here

Reuland, Melissa, Laura Draper, and Blake Norton. Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: Tailoring Law Enforcement Initiatives to Individual Jurisdictions. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2010. This publication explores the program design process, including detailed examples from several communities from across the country. It is meant to assist initiative leaders and agents of change who want to select or adapt program features from models that will be most effective in their communities.
Available here

Rowings, Kathy. County Roles and Opportunities in Reentry Planning. Washington, DC: National Association of Counties, May 5, 2017. This issue brief outlines a few of the many strategies counties can employ to assist individuals returning to their communities, including improving access to stable and affordable housing, providing physical and behavioral health treatment, offering training and workforce development and increasing transportation options.
Available here

Schwarzfeld, Matt, Melissa Reuland, and Martha Plotkin. Improving Responses to People with Mental Illnesses: The Essential Elements of a Specialized Law Enforcement-Based Program. New York, NY: Council of State Governments Justice Center, 2008. This publication articulates ten essential elements for specialized law enforcement-based response programs in interacting with people with mental illnesses and provides a common framework for program design and implementation that will promote positive outcomes while being sensitive to every jurisdiction’s distinct needs and resources.
Available here

Website Resources

American Jail Association (AJA):
AJA provides support to professionals who work in and operate U.S. jails.

American Judges Association (AJA):
AJA is a member organization for judges, and includes both current and former judges of courts of all jurisdictions.

American Probation and Parole Association (APPA):
APPA is a member organization for criminal justice professionals working in probation, parole, and community-based corrections.

Correctional Leaders Association (CLA):
CLA is a professional organization for correctional institution administrators.

International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP):
IACP is a membership organization of police executives.

National Association of Counties (NACo):
Representing county governments, NACo provides members with tools and information related to grants, training, and assistance.

National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers (NACDL):
NACDL is a member organization for criminal defense lawyers.

National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA):
NAPSA is a professional association for those working in the pretrial release and diversion fields.

National Center for State Courts (NCSC):
NCSC provides court and criminal justice professionals with relevant research and data to support improvements in state courts.

National Criminal Justice Association (NCJA):
NCJA is dedicated to improving state and local level justice systems to enhance public safety.

National District Attorneys Association (NDAA):
NDAA is a member organization for criminal prosecutors.

National Legal Aid & Defender Association (NLADA):
NLADA is a member organization for professionals who provide legal services to those who cannot afford counsel.

Police Executive Research Forum (PERF):
PERF provides technical assistance and other services to support law enforcement agencies.

Pretrial Justice Institute (PJI):
PJI works to inform and improve pretrial decision making.

Urban Institute:
The Urban Institute conducts research and gathers data to inform public policy and government.

Vera Institute of Justice (Vera):
Vera is a nonprofit center for justice and policy. Its Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program conducts research to inform and assist the behavioral health and criminal justice communities develop effective, research-based responses to justice-involved persons with mental illnesses and substance use disorders.