The Council of State Governments (CSG) recently announced that Megan Quattlebaum, research scholar in law at Yale University Law School and lecturer in law at Columbia University Law School, will be the next director of The CSG Justice Center.
Substance Abuse Posts
A 55-year-old U.S. Army veteran, Ronald Forbes is on the brink of expanding his Oakland, California-based catering company in partnership with his sister, Catherine. Soon, he’ll move the business to a commercial space, but for now he’s practicing his recipes for barbecue chicken, ribs, and his mom’s potato salad at home.
The U.S. Department of Justice recently announced $36 million in FY2017 Second Chance Act grants that were awarded to 68 jurisdictions across the country.
When Sharon Hadley arrived at Santa Maria Hostel in July 2012, she had just completed the latest in her decade-long string of sentences for drug-related offenses. “Now that I look back over my life, I can see how the wheels started coming off even before I really knew it,” Hadley said. “I recidivated 13 times. Each incarceration was longer and longer, and I was more and more hopeless.”
With Second Chance Act grant funding, Santa Maria Hostel began employing recovery coaches in 2013 to provide additional, one-on-one support to women in its Paths to Recovery program to help them meet their reentry goals. Recovery coaches also help connect participants to housing, education, and employment services.
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum signed legislation on April 21 that enables the state to appropriate $7 million from the general fund to increase the quality of community-based behavioral health treatment for people in the criminal justice system and an additional half a million dollars to increase the number of treatment providers to serve this population, which can significantly reduce recidivism and improve public health outcomes.
“I’ve been in and out of jail for the last 20 years, and this [group] taught me it was time to grow up and stop doing the things I was doing,” Rich said. “Having people who care about how you’re doing and who can lift your spirits is important.”
“Every single meeting that I have with law enforcement, the number one issue that comes up is about people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system,” said John Wetzel, secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections and chair of the CSG Justice Center board. “That’s why I’m excited about the Stepping Up Initiative, which takes a data-driven approach to solving this problem and addressing the needs of the individual at the local level.”
“The idea that recovery is possible needs to be disseminated as widely as possible,” said Erika Miranda, a peer navigator for Encompass Community Services in Santa Cruz County. “To have every system encourage recovery means that people with mental illnesses can be integrated into their communities, can stop recidivating, and really change their lives.”
New Beginnings, a 2011 and 2014 Second Chance Act-funded program of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety and Corrections, received the 2017 Innovation in Corrections Award at the American Correctional Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas last month.
This guide prepared by the National Reentry Resource Center is intended to support recipients of Second Chance Act (SCA) Reentry Program for Adults with Co-Occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders grants funded by the U.S. Department of Justice.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“[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.
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.
“We really became committed to reentry,” said Rockdale County Lieutenant Dennis Pass. “So going to command staff and getting buy-in for using this tool wasn’t difficult. They knew finding a tool that doesn’t take a clinician to use is tough, so this was a perfect fit.”
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.
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.
“It’s about showing up and having people’s back … and I believe the only way we make real change in terms of the discrimination related to mental health is when we normalize it,” said Jennifer Mehnert, executive director of Maine chapter of NAMI.
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.
Teams of behavioral health and criminal justice professionals gathered in Washington, DC, this week to address the “human consequences of an inhumane system” in which 2 million adults with serious mental illnesses are admitted to county jails every year.
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.
From watching his son struggle with bi-polar disorder, to witnessing the treatment of the 1,200 individuals with mental disorders in a Miami-Dade County jail, journalist and author Pete Earley’s experiences have coalesced into a common theme concerning mental health and the criminal justice system.
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.
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.
Through pre- and post-incarceration services, Just In Reach creates a stable environment in which goals such as employment and family reunification can be built.
At Detroit Central City Community Mental Health in Wayne County, Michigan, clients used to arrive to see their clinicians or a doctor. Now, more frequently, they come to see their mentor.
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.
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.
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.
The NRRC, a project of the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, will provide intensive technical assistance to support the design and implementation of strategies that unite corrections and workforce development partners in Philadelphia and Milwaukee counties.
Among the new awards are five $3 million Statewide Recidivism Reduction (SRR) implementation grants, awarded to Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Vermont.
The bill would provide incentives and resources to state, local, and tribal governments and nonprofit organizations for substance use treatment, prevention, and recovery efforts.
Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and MacArthur Foundation Announce $2 Million in Funding for Juvenile Justice Programs
When it comes to information sharing between community health care providers and criminal justice health systems, according to Ben Butler of Community Oriented Correctional Health Services, today’s “connectivity” landscape is reminiscent of the early days of cellphones.
Each year, 8,000 individuals leave prison or jail and return to their communities in Washington, DC. Within three years, however, about half of them will be reincarcerated. Studies show that having a stable job after release from incarceration can reduce recidivism. Yet a 2011 survey of 550 formerly incarcerated people in DC found that 46 percent of them reported being unemployed.
As part of West Virginia’s justice reinvestment approach to controlling prison growth, Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced in May the award of $1.26 million in grants to expand substance use treatment and services for individuals at risk of failing on probation or parole.
Congress took a significant first step toward continuing the work of the Second Chance Act today as the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to reauthorize the bipartisan bill.
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.
David D’Amora from the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG) and Dr. Eric B. Elbogen from the University of North Carolina (UNC) School of Medicine co-presented in the session, Addressing the Role of Factors that May Contribute to Violence: Mental Illness and Substance Abuse.
The CSG Justice Center delivered trainings at two conferences in the behavioral health field—the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) Annual Meeting in New York City, and the National Council for Behavioral Health’s (NCBH) Annual Conference in National Harbor, MD.
Evidence-based approaches and strategies for the successful reentry of individuals returning home from incarceration who also have mental and/or co-occurring substance use disorders was the subject of a recent training session led by the CSG Justice Center.
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.
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 […]
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.
More than 500 researchers, evaluators, administrators, parents, and advocates came together at the 27th Annual Children’s Mental Health Research & Policy Conference, held in Tampa, Florida, on March 2–5 to discuss issues related to health, education, welfare, and juvenile justice.
On February 4, 2014, national leaders in the criminal justice and behavioral health fields gathered in Washington, D.C., to discuss the Access to Treatment: Bringing NIATx to Corrections Project, a partnership between the Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center) and NIATx.
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.
In October 2013, 104 government agencies and nonprofit organizations across the country were awarded grants through the Second Chance Act to help improve the outcomes for and reduce recidivism among individuals leaving prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities.
On January 16, 2014 Congress passed the $1 trillion omnibus federal spending package, which includes a $51.6 billion Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) appropriations bill. Under this bill, the Second Chance Act would receive $67.7 million in funding, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) would receive $8.2 million, and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative would receive $27.5 million, which includes $1 million for the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections.
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.
This video series from the Justice Management Institute provides a brief overview of sentencing and corrections in the U.S., the Risk-Need-Responsivity principles, and the characteristics of effective change management efforts. The series can be used as an introduction to the […]
On June 27, 2013, the Council of Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center), in partnership with the Urban Institute, hosted a field-wide training webinar about the recently expanded What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse. This online compendium now includes new information […]
A growing body of evidence indicates that the medical home model can improve health care quality and outcomes and reduce costs. The medical home is not a place, but a method of delivering health care, in which a centralized provider […]
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 […]
The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center), the Urban Institute, and the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) are excited to announce the expansion of three new focus areas on the What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse (Clearinghouse) website—Substance Abuse, Family programs, […]
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 […]
The Council of State Governments Justice Center (CSG Justice Center), in collaboration with SAMHSA’s GAINS Center for Behavioral Health and Justice Transformation (GAINS), developed a new “Criminal Justice Track” at the National Council for Behavioral Health’s (NCBH) annual conference, which […]
This month marks the five-year anniversary of the Second Chance Act, the landmark legislation authorizing federal grants to support programs aimed at improving outcomes for people leaving prisons, jails, and juvenile facilities and reducing recidivism. The bill also funds research […]
The co-occurrence of mental health and substance use disorders is very common among people in the criminal justice system, impacting their recovery paths, creating stress for their families, and affecting public safety and spending. Integrated treatment has been demonstrated as […]
This presentation was delivered at the 2013 JMHCP National Training and Technical Assistance Event. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) makes significant changes to the nation’s health care system, including what services must be covered by health insurance, who is eligible and […]
Integrating substance use and co-occurring disorder treatment into the criminal justice system is an important component of an effective recidivism reduction strategy. Research shows that combining treatment with supervision has a significant impact on reducing recidivism and is cost-effective. Ensuring that […]
Recovery is defined by SAMHSA as “a process of change through which individuals improve their health and wellness, live a self-directed life, and strive to reach their full potential.” Practitioners are increasingly working to make collaborative criminal justice and behavioral […]
This presentation was delivered at the 2013 JMHCP National Training and Technical Assistance Event. Individuals involved in the criminal justice system have a wide range of needs, particularly those with mental health and/or substance use disorders. There is no one-size-fits-all approach […]
The prevalence of substance abuse and mental health disorders in all corrections populations is disproportionately high. Individuals with either of these disorders, or both, tend to stay longer in correctional facilities and do worse under community supervision. Their disorders can […]
During his 12 years at PERF, Jerry also authored and co-authored numerous publications and guides for law enforcement officials.
Washington, D.C. — Law enforcement officials, judicial leaders, and behavioral health experts came together on March 6 to brief Congressional staff on the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) and the collaborative criminal justice-mental health programs that it supports. Dr. Fred Osherof the Council of State Governments Justice Center, Chief J. Thomas Manger of the Montgomery County (MD) Department of Police, Inspector Bryan Schafer of the Minneapolis (MN) Police Department, and Judge Steven Leifman of Miami-Dade County Court spoke to key stakeholders and staff from numerous congressional offices, representing members of both parties.
As some of the nation’s foremost experts on implementing collaborative criminal justice-mental health programs, the panelists each shared their perspectives and/or experiences. Their testimonies underscored the fact that programs supported by MIOTCRA and similar grant initiatives are contributing in significant ways towards ending the cycles of arrest and incarceration for people with mental illnesses.
Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, D.C. To download a PDF of the agenda, click here. THURSDAY, MARCH 8th 8:00 am – 8:30 am Check-in and Registration [Empire Foyer] 8:30 am – 9:15 am Welcome and Introductions [Empire Ballroom] • Ruby Qazilbash, […]
Oklahoma policymakers have recently partnered with the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in a comprehensive effort to reduce crime and corrections costs in the state. Early last month, the CSG Justice Center recommended that policymakers increase the number of crisis stabilization beds and treatment facilities in the state for individuals with acute mental health needs. The recommendation is one of several “justice reinvestment” measures outlined in a CSG Justice Center report on ways to improve efficiency in the state’s criminal justice system and reinvest savings in programs that increase public safety.
To read “Justice Reinvestment in Oklahoma: Analysis and Policy Framework,” click here.
State lawmakers are looking at the impact that shortages of crisis stabilization and treatment beds have had on municipal law enforcement agencies. The CSG Justice Center report shows how a shortage of crisis stabilization beds in Tulsa, the state’s second-largest city, has forced local law enforcement officers to expend significant time and resources transporting individuals to mental health facilities across the state. Officers made 180 such trips last year—traveling an average of 229 miles each trip, according to data analyzed by CSG Justice Center researchers.
Transporting individuals in crisis across the state has had a dramatic impact on health and budget outcomes. Not only does it delay connecting individuals to critical treatment services; it also removes officers from their regular duties (the state requires two officers for every transport). The agency must pay significant transportation costs, salaries for the officers making the trip, and overtime pay for officers required to compensate for the diverted patrol presence.
“Some smaller departments might have three, four, or five officers on the streets on a daily basis. When there aren’t enough [treatment] beds in Tulsa and you need to take someone somewhere else, you are taking officers off the street for two to four hours, or even more,” said Chief Ike Shirley, head of the police department in Bixby (a small city just outside Tulsa).
The Council of State Governments Justice Center has identified four jurisdictions to serve as “pilot sites” for its forthcoming curriculum for practitioners interested in developing mental health courts. Stakeholders from the pilot jurisdictions will use an advance version of the course, which includes online presentations and group activities, and participate in focus groups throughout the fall and winter to help authors finalize it for broad release. The Justice Center will release the final version of the curriculum online–where users can access it for free–in spring 2012.
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The National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC)—which, like the Consensus Project, is coordinated by the CSG Justice Center—recently published a set of frequently asked questions on the substance use and mental and physical health of people involved with the criminal justice system. The FAQ was prepared by the NRRC’s Committee on Health, Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders.
The Justice Center, in conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, hosted a national technical assistance and training event on February 9-11, 2011 in Baltimore, MD. Materials from this event are now available on the Consensus Project website at
Each month, the Justice Center spotlights high-quality collaborative criminal justice/mental health initiatives that have received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). Justice Center staff members ask the practitioners in these programs to discuss some successes and challenges they have encountered in the planning and implementation process. This month’s profile is from the Alabama Department of Mental Health and the Alabama Administrative Office of Courts, a 2009 planning and implementation grantee.
The Alabama JMHCP project aims to build capacity for state-level training and technical assistance for jurisdictions interested in or already operating mental health courts or mental health diversion programs. On October 13–15, 2010, the Alabama Department of Mental Health and Alabama Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) hosted the first Alabama Mental Health Court Conference. John Houston, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Mental Health (DMH), and Callie T. Dietz, administrative director of courts, opened the conference by stressing the importance of cross-system collaboration in times of jail and prison overcrowding and diminishing resources. About 150 judges, attorneys, treatment providers, and community corrections officers from around the state participated in two-and-a-half days of presentations and breakout sessions led by national experts and practitioners from existing Alabama mental health courts. The conference agenda is available here.
In the next year, the Alabama grantees will prepare for a second conference scheduled for the fall of 2011, continue development of a technical assistance “toolkit” that will include sample forms and access to existing state and national resources, and develop suggestions for standardized data collection across Alabaman mental health courts.
Each month the Justice Center spotlights collaborative criminal justice/mental health initiatives that have received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). Justice Center staff members ask the practitioners in these programs to discuss some successes and challenges they have encountered in the planning and implementation process. This month’s profile is from the Judiciary of Guam, a 2008 Planning and Implementation grantee.
Guam, a United States territory in the Western Pacific, received a JMHCP planning and implementation grant in 2008 to develop a mental health court. The Judiciary of Guam and the Guam Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse (DMHSA) collaborated in a planning process that led to the opening of the Guam Mental Health Court (Guam MHC) in May 2009. The Guam MHC targets adult offenders with serious mental illnesses or developmental disabilities who are charged with nonviolent crimes and express interest in treatment. The court provides much-needed structure for, and coordination of, mental health and substance use services in a jurisdiction with limited health care resources.
With a growing awareness of the mental health problems facing many recent U.S. Armed Services veterans and some evidence of its impact on their involvement with the criminal justice system, there is increasing interest in the field in diversion programs that particularly address veterans’ concerns. In response to this interest, the Justice Center has compiled the brief summary below of some of the new programs and initiatives targeting veterans with mental health conditions involved with the justice system.
Each month the Justice Center spotlights collaborative criminal justice/mental health initiatives that have received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). Center staff asks the practitioners in these programs to discuss some successes and challenges they have encountered in the planning and implementation process. This month’s profile is from Deschutes County, Oregon, a 2008 Implementation and Expansion grantee.
The Deschutes County Mental Health Court in central Oregon received an expansion grant to increase access to services for its target population: moderate- to high-risk adults who have pled guilty to a misdemeanor or felony crime, have a diagnosed mental illness or dual diagnosis of mental illness and substance abuse, and demonstrate a willingness to participate in the program as an alternative to incarceration in the county’s jail facility.
The expansion builds on a program in place since 2002 through a partnership among the Deschutes County Mental Health Department, the District Attorney’s Office, the Circuit Court, and the Alternatives to Incarceration Committee in Deschutes County. Under the expansion grant, the program, which serves a mostly rural community, has grown to include twenty-five participants at a given time–double its initial size. The mental health court has also increased awareness and understanding about mental health issues in the criminal justice system through educational programs aimed at attorneys and local law enforcement.
The Justice Center, in conjunction with the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, hosted a national technical assistance and training event on July 15-17, 2009 in Washington, DC. Speakers at this event provided training to nearly 500 representatives from state and local governments and community-based programs who are working to improve how the justice system addresses adults and juveniles with mental illnesses. Smart
Responses in Tough Times: Achieving Better Outcomes for People with Mental Illnesses Involved in the Criminal Justice System was the largest
training forum ever organized by BJA on this topic.
Each month the Justice Center spotlights collaborative criminal justice/mental health initiatives that have received funding from the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP). Center staff ask the practitioners in these programs to discuss some successes and challenges they have encountered in the planning and implementation process. This month’s profile is from the Kalamazoo Mental Health Court.
From a new court rule in Idaho that expands the reach of mental health courts to enhanced mental health training requirements for police officers in Indiana and Oklahoma, state legislatures across the country continued to prioritize criminal justice and mental health issues throughout 2008. The Justice Center has compiled a list of several state laws that passed in 2008 focused on individuals with mental illnesses involved in the criminal justice system
The number of people entering the criminal justice system with serious mental illnesses has steadily increased over the years. Criminal justice staff, however, often do not know if these individuals have ever received behavioral health treatment prior to incarceration.
State governments across the country are engaged in a wide range of legislative and budgetary efforts to improve the response to individuals with mental illnesses in contact with–or are at risk of contact with–the criminal justice system. Council of State Governments Justice Center (Justice Center) staff have identified a sampling of diverse state-level approaches to addressing criminal justice/mental health issues that have been signed into law over the past two years.
Just a few months ago, staff and case managers at the Orleans Parish Mental Health Court (MHC) were collecting outcome data and exploring ways to increase the court’s capacity beyond 100 participants. Today, using an office in Baton Rouge as their temporary headquarters, staff are scattered across the region searching for court participants displaced by Hurricane Katrina, wondering when they might return to their Tulane Avenue courthouse and offices.