Vermont and Ohio Kick Off State Forums on Public Safety

April 18, 2018

As a continuation of the 50-State Summit on Public Safety held in November 2017 in Washington, DC, multiple states have been selected by the U.S Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance to host individual state forums on public safety. Earlier this month, Vermont and Ohio became the first states to hold their forums, each of which was facilitated by staff from the CSG Justice Center.

Vermont State Forum on Public Safety

Despite recent successes in lowering the correctional population and addressing opioid addiction, Vermont continues to face challenges related to people in the criminal justice system who have behavioral health conditions. There is limited treatment capacity in prison and inadequate access to services in the community, particularly in rural parts of the state.

On April 2, the Vermont Department of Corrections (DOC), Vermont Department of Health, and the South Burlington Police Department hosted the Vermont State Forum on Public Safety to address these and other public safety concerns. The forum was attended by approximately 80 representatives primarily from law enforcement and behavioral health treatment providers who engaged in cross-agency information sharing and collaboration.

Governor Phil Scott provided the opening remarks, and panel discussions—featuring Human Services Secretary Al Gobeille and other key state agency heads—focused on strategies to improve outcomes for people who have behavioral health conditions, including employing effective responses to this population in and out of correctional settings and leveraging community partnerships to address behavioral health-related challenges at the local level.

Ohio State Forum on Public Safety

Ohio embarked on a justice reinvestment approach in September 2017 to address a number of criminal justice challenges, including a statewide increase in violent crime and a significant spike in the opioid overdose death rate. On April 5, 2018, the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission held the Ohio State Forum on Public Safety to examine these issues in greater depth.

Approximately 70 attendees from the state legislature, judiciary, and various criminal justice and behavioral health agencies participated in the forum, which focused on law enforcement and behavioral health. Results from a survey administered by the CSG Justice Center prior to the forum highlighted challenges that law enforcement face in their efforts to combat violent crime and addiction and led to discussion about research on effective policing strategies and ways to build on past efforts to support local law enforcement going forward. Forum attendees also expressed interest in learning more about how people cycling through both the criminal justice and behavioral health systems can be identified and targeted for additional treatment and intervention as needed.

CSG Justice Center staff will continue to analyze data related to law enforcement and behavioral health issues as a part of the ongoing justice reinvestment effort in Ohio.

View the CSG Justice Center’s presentation from the forum to learn more.

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