Stepping Up Pennsylvania: Findings and Recommendations from the Behavioral Health-Criminal Justice State Policy Scan Project

Stepping Up Pennsylvania: Findings and Recommendations from the Behavioral Health-Criminal Justice State Policy Scan Project

Across the country, communities struggle to address the high number of people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) cycling through their local criminal justice systems. The CSG Justice Center partnered with the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency’s (PCCD) Mental Health and Justice Advisory Committee to conduct a statewide policy scan. The purpose of the scan was to identify opportunities for the state to help counties continue to reduce the number of people with SMI in local criminal justice systems—especially county jails. CSG Justice Center staff made recommendations rooted in research and best practices with proposed action items. These recommendations focus on three priority areas: (1) improving local capacity to collect data and share information, (2) increasing local diversion as early as possible, and (3) increasing local availability of and connections to housing. (Photo credit: Schindlerdigital, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

Alex Blandford, Thomas Coyne, and Hadley Fitzgerald | June 2021 | The Council of State Governments Justice Center

ABOUT THE AUTHORS


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Alex Blandford
Program Director, Behavioral Health
Alex Blandford oversees and executes the CSG Justice Center's health policy portfolio and works to improve access to health care for people in the criminal justice system through federal, state, and local policy. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center,
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Alex was a project coordinator for the Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health, which is housed in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. As a project coordinator, she oversaw a variety of research projects, including one examining the Pittsburgh region’s emergency response to mental health crises, and another evaluating the region’s Crisis Intervention Team training for police officers. She earned her BS in psychology and BA in French from the Pennsylvania State University and her MPH at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.
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    Thomas Coyne
    Senior Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
    Thomas Coyne provides technical assistance to jurisdictions addressing the housing needs of people with mental illnesses who are involved with the criminal justice system. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, he worked on health and housing policy with the
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    Health & Housing Integration team at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. He brings field experience from social work, having worked extensively with people who have serious mental illnesses in Washington, DC, as well as with families reuniting with their children from foster care in Michigan. Thomas earned his BS in criminal justice and BA in sociology from Madonna University and his MPP from the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University.
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    Hadley Fitzgerald
    Senior Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
    Hadley Fitzgerald provides technical assistance to Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grantees and supports policy projects to enhance cross-system collaborations for criminal justice and behavioral health agencies. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Hadley worked at the New
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    York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) as a coordinator for a regional consortium of Medicaid plans, providers, and Health Homes. Previously, Hadley worked as a forensic social worker for the DOHMH and NYPD Co-Response Team and the Brooklyn Defender Services. She received an MSW from the Hunter School of Social Work and a BA from New York University.
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