Co-Chairs Named to Lead Task Force on Improving State Court Responses to People with Mental Health Issues

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Co-Chairs Named to Lead Task Force on Improving State Court Responses to People with Mental Health Issues CCJ and COSCA have created a mental health task force to improve how state courts respond to people with serious mental illnesses. The task force transitions the work of the National Initiative Advisory Committee, created in 2019 with a three-year State Justice Institute grant to NCSC. In May, CCJ and COSCA established the task force to assume leadership of the remaining two-years of the project. Vermont Chief Justice Paul L. Reiber and New York Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence K. Marks have been named co-chairs.

The Advisory Committee recognized that transitioning to a national task force would create greater structure, attention, and focus to the work necessary to prompt changes to state court policies and practices that will lead to more fair and timely justice for court-involved individuals with serious mental illness, according to a recently released report on the first year of the project.

The task force’s immediate focus is to develop resources for courts about procedures and best practices during the pandemic in civil and criminal cases involving people with mental illness.

Recent Webinar: Addressing Court Workplace Mental Health and Well-being in Tense Times Anxiety and stress in returning to the workplace in the midst of COVID-19 and budget challenges loom large in the minds of judges and court staff. Added to this dynamic is the national focus on racism and its rightful demands on the justice community, including trial courts. How can court leaders address these challenges and promote a mentally healthy workplace and environment? This recent NCSC webinar and the related materials, including this North Carolina courts video provide some answers.

"The Doctor Is In" The Court Consulting Services Division of the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) will be providing its free remote and virtual consulting service, “The Doctor Is In,” via telephone and videoconference from July 6th to 17th! Principal Court Management Consultants Patti Tobias, Michelle O’Brien, and colleagues will be available to provide you or a team with 60 to 90 minutes of free consulting and professional advice. Our experts can meet with you to discuss any issues concerning mental health and the courts that your organization may be facing whether as a result of COVID-19 or beyond.

Coordinated Court and Community Responses has been revised and updated. This NCSC website brings together the best resources from dozens of sources into one site, organized around the SIM intercepts. New resources and topics have been added, including a section on resources for rural courts, one on the emerging uses of technology across the intercepts, and more.

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Research and Resources

Apply by July 15 - Court Case Processing Learning Collaborative: Improving Caseflow Management for Defendants with Behavioral Health Needs The Council of State Governments Justice Center, along with the National Center for State Courts, is hosting a virtual learning collaborative consisting of three sessions about how to improve criminal case processing for defendants with behavioral health needs. The sessions will focus on how COVID-19 affects caseflow processing, innovations for processing cases involving defendants with behavioral health needs during the pandemic, and strategies for “building back better” as jurisdictions are beginning to resume full court operations and address backlogs. The sessions are designed to be interactive and collaborative and provide an opportunity for peer learning. This learning collaborative is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance.

Behind Bars and in the Hole: Applying Olmstead to Incarcerated Individuals with Mental Illness In interpreting the integration mandate of the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Olmstead Court opened a new route for individuals with mental and physical disabilities to receive care in the least restricted setting. This Note outlines how a complainant might bring an Olmstead claim to request injunctive relief in the form of mental health services, while also exploring the shortcomings of the hypothetical complaint.

Community Health Workers and Behavioral Health Care Part II of this article provides a series of detailed profiles of five states that have made significant efforts to expand the use of CHWs for behavioral health care. The profiled states are ordered from the least to the most formal, in terms of the regulatory, statutory, and funding infrastructure present in each state supporting the use of CHWs. This ordering permits a consideration of whether top-down public health reform in this area is effective in stimulating grassroots efforts or whether such reform necessarily takes place only after grassroots work prepares the ground for new approaches. There is also a significant discussion of Medicaid waivers as a source of funding for this resource.

OJJDP TTA Digest, July 2020 The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) is pleased to share the following Digest of upcoming activities in the field. Several behavioral health resources are included.

Blaming The Closing of State Hospitals For Incarceration Is ‘Simplistic’ – Researcher’s Claim Dr. Mark R. Munetz, the co-creator of the Sequential Intercept Model, and two of his colleagues, Natalie Bonfine and Amy Blank Wilson, write that we must consider other factors in addition to serious mental illnesses if we want to address the fact that 2.2 million Americans with mental illness are booked into jail each year and 365,000 currently are incarcerated.

Methamphetamine Use Disorders: Considerations from Across the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) This webinar will present an overview of methamphetamine use and justice involvement, as well as explore emerging or promising practices to address the needs of individuals with methamphetamine use disorders who interface with the justice system. Presented by BJA and COSSAP, July 16th.

Rural Community Toolbox Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) has built a Rural Community Toolbox. The Toolbox is a clearinghouse for funding, technical assistance, and other information from 16 Federal departments and agencies to support local action in rural America related to substance use disorder resources.

What are ACEs? Produced by the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, this infographic provides psychiatrists, other mental health clinicians, and judges an overview of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and how they should be thinking about it in their areas of practice.

PRA June eNews Policy Research Associates newsletter. Includes a Trueblood Summit Report, SOAR resources, and a list of upcoming webinars.

Justice Briefing July 1 CSG Justice Center newsletter: how one county financed their mental health response; a webinar on connecting people to care via telehealth; & referring 911 calls to counselors.

SJC Virtual Behavioral Health Meeting This resource contains recordings of the two-day event, but also an impressive collection of research and resources in the Handouts link.

The Present and Future of AI in Pre-Trial Risk Assessment Instruments This brief suggests key questions to consider in the future when determining if adopting an AI-based pre-trial risk assessment tool will result in better predictions and ultimately move their jurisdiction towards fairer, more just pre-trial decision making that respects civil and human rights and advances equity. A MacArthur Safety and Justice Challenge product.

This MacArthur SJC Report on Mecklenburg County includes findings from their implementation of strategies to safely reduce their jail population, as well as an implicit bias training resource for criminal justice professionals.

Financing the Future of Local Initiatives Local leaders face plenty of hurdles in funding and sustaining their efforts to reduce the number of people in jails who have mental illnesses or substance use disorders. They might struggle to work across sectors to leverage available resources or encounter difficulties interpreting complex regulations about federal funding eligibility and usage. Meanwhile, the sheer number of available federal funding opportunities can be overwhelming. To respond to this need, CSG Justice Center created Financing the Future of Local Initiatives, a set of tools that helps jurisdictions plan for financial sustainability.

Heart Forward LA In Nov 2017, 13 LA County leaders attended an international mental health conference in Trieste Italy.  The delegation included influencers from the county of Los Angeles, the mental health court, law enforcement, NAMI, LAHSA, nonprofits and philanthropy. services. In 2019, the county approved a $116M five-year pilot for Hollywood, and after it is approved by the LA County Board of Supervisors it will undergo one year of planning before commencing in 2021.

Attend the NAMI National Convention We are grateful for your patience and support as we transformed our canceled in-person NAMICon into a virtual event. We are excited to announce that no cost registration is now open for NAMICon 2020, a Virtual Event, taking place July 13–14.

NatCon at Home The virtual annual conference of the National Council for Behavioral Health will be held July 15th. Registration is free.

SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance Related to COVID-19 SAMHSA is committed to providing regular training and technical assistance (TTA) on matters related to the mental and substance use disorder field as they deal with COVID-19. Our TA programs are delivering great resources during this time.

SAMHSA's GAINS Center Virtual Learning Community: Leveraging Teleservices in Drug Courts to Improve Treatment Access Part I of this Virtual Learning Community webinar series will provide an overview of the emerging teleservices landscape and the opportunities brought about by this shift in methodology, review the evidence base for SUD treatment services delivered via teleservices technologies, and share potential strategies for the implementation of SUD teleservices in drug courts, including a review of the types of SUD services that can be effectively leveraged via telehealth along with models of care that highlight the mechanisms of collaboration between drug courts and community-based treatment providers.

SAMHSA Webinar: Supporting Reentry for People with Mental and Substance Use Disorders: Establishing Recovery Housing This webinar presents strategies and approaches to establishing recovery housing. Information on what recovery housing is, how to start a recovery housing program, and relevant policies and resources from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development will be shared. This webinar will be based on the key elements of recovery housing using SAMHSA’s Recovery Housing: Best Practices and Suggested Guidelines.

Data Sharing among Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Partners: Mechanisms and Platforms for Efficient Data and Information Sharing Part 3 of SAMHSA's GAINS Center's Data and Information Sharing Virtual Learning Community.

Mental Health Training for Juvenile Justice (MHT-JJ) Train-the-Trainer (T3) event Developed for juvenile probation, detention, and corrections professionals, the MHT-JJ provides critical information and practical strategies for interacting with youth who are experiencing mental health, substance use, and traumatic stress conditions. The MHT-JJ provides research-based instruction that increases juvenile justice practitioner knowledge and develops and enhances skills to support effective and safe interactions with youth. Presented by the National Center for Youth Opportunity and Justice.

Pretrial Justice Institute Newsletter This edition includes an announcement of a six-week Fundamentals of Pretrial Justice virtual learning opportunity, as well as pretrial news from around the country.

Treatment Advocacy Center: Research Weekly: June Research Roundup Research Roundup is a monthly public service of the TAC Office of Research and Public Affairs. This month focuses on COVID-19 related research.

The Pandemic of Adverse Childhood Experiences: Courts and the Health of Idaho Citizens While the world has been preoccupied with a pandemic known as COVID-19, a long-existing health crisis continues unabated causing far more long-lasting harm to society.  As a member of Idaho’s bench for the past 27 years, one of my priorities has been addressing juvenile justice issues.  This experience has revealed a pressing health problem known as ACEs, or Adverse Childhood Experiences.

New Funding Opportunity: Rural Communities Opioid Response Program – Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (RCORP-NAS) The Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Federal Office of Rural Health Policy (FORHP) will be making a $15 million investment, over three years, for approximately 30 grants to reduce the incidence and impact of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).  Over a three-year project period, grant recipients will conduct a combination of prevention, treatment, and recovery activities to improve systems of care, family supports, and social determinants of health.

In the News

What "Defunding the Police" Might Mean for Serious Brain Illnesses While the slogan has different interpretations, the movement brings welcome attention to what the National Shattering Silence Coalition (NSSC) and other advocates have long called for—the need to invest in psychiatric care and social services specifically targeting those experiencing serious brain disorders, not the “worried well,” and to shift responsibilities such as brain illness-related crises and homelessness away from law enforcement and into the hands of medical and social service professionals. The responsibility for the failure of our health system should not fall on the police.

FCC to Finalize New 3-Digit Number for National Suicide Hotline The Federal Communications Commission will formally designate next month a new three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline, the agency announced Tuesday.

Currently, the hotline is accessible by the 10-digit number, 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). The FCC will vote at its July 16 open meeting to make 9-8-8 the number an individual seeking help can dial and be connected to the hotline.

Jails, Justice and Mental Health In a conversation with The Crime Report, filmmaker Gabriel London said he hoped his recent film, The Definition of Insanity, narrated by Rob Reiner, which follows participants and the team involved in the Miami-Dade Criminal Mental Health Project (CMHP), can point the way towards programs that changes lives, and can serve as a model for future reform—a strategy he says can resonate at a time when people are looking for positive change in the justice system.

1A Across America: Unpolicing Mental Illness Law enforcement officials have become the de facto facilitators of mental health care in America, according to a survey of law enforcement officials from last year. But many police officers have little or no training on how to deal with a person with serious mental illness. The results can often be deadly. A 2015 Washington Post investigation found that police shot and killed a person having a mental health crisis every 36 hours in the first six months of that year. With protestors calling to defund the police, cities and towns nationwide are exploring ways to separate law enforcement from mental health care. NPR explored what that could look like.

Dane County Board Criminal Justice Reform Package Elements of the initial package of reform – spanning the continuum from first interaction with law enforcement, to diversion from the criminal justice system or to booking, pretrial arraignment, charging, sentencing, and re-entry – are based on years of community-involved workgroup and various committee recommendations.

Suicidologist Cautions Against High Suicide Predictions for 2020 There has been a great deal of speculation on what’s to come in mental health and what the suicide rate will be when 2020 is all said and done. Suicidologist Daniel S. DeBrule, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Medicine and Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine, is cautiously optimistic.

Mental Health Parity in the US: Have We Made Any Real Progress? Are we living up to the ideals and standards proposed by the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA)? According to some recent reports and measures, the answer is no. Mental health parity is a straightforward concept: insurance coverage for mental health conditions, including substance abuse disorder (SUD) treatment, should be equal to coverage for any other medical conditions. While the MHPAEA codified the idea in federal and state law, its implementation has proved difficult.

Counties Step up Mental Health Services As counties grapple with how best to provide mental health services, they are uncovering new challenges and also new adaptations that could pay off down the road. Many counties report taking greater advantage of telehealth in assessing patients in distress, in addition to replacing in-person meetings with clients. They save time for both client and practitioner and limit exposure to the novel coronavirus.

Contra Costa County’s Holistic Intervention Partnership: Providing Services After Police Contact in Misdemeanor Cases Months ahead of the killing of George Floyd and the most recent nationwide call for police reform, Contra Costa County, California was awarded funds typically identified for police and prosecution to establish the Holistic Intervention Partnership (HIP), an innovative holistic defense system focusing on early intervention at the time of police contact in misdemeanor cases.

State of Justice June 30th edition of the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center criminal justice newsletter.

PTACC Ticker Wednesday, June 24th Police, Treatment, and Community Collaborative newsletter.

News and Commentary from the Treatment Advocacy Center June TAC newsletter.

Kentucky Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program Receives $4 Million Grant SAMSHA awarded the grant to fund Kentucky Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) programs in four regions of the state. AOT will serve a small SMI population in need of high-impact behavioral health services, such as people recently discharged from a psychiatric hospital who are not likely to engage voluntarily in ongoing care.

To Repair Policing, Invest in Mental Health Every time police are forced to respond to a mental health crisis, the risk of tragedy increases. Research from my organization, Treatment Advocacy Center, found that people with serious mental illness are 16 times more likely to be killed in an encounter with law enforcement than someone without a diagnosed mental health condition.

Police Are the First to Respond to Mental Health Crises. They Shouldn’t Be A rallying cry emerging from the recent nationwide protests against police brutality is to “defund the police,” or, use money dedicated to police departments to pay for other social welfare initiatives. Mental health programs are a top candidate—CIT, preventative mental health services, more psychiatric beds, and, importantly, alternative response teams to respond to 911 mental health calls.

My Son’s In Jail Getting Worse, Mother Says. What Will Happen To Him? I hired an attorney to gain guardianship. The attorney assured me that once I had guardianship, I would be able to get him the tests, treatment and help he needed without his consent. Unfortunately, after paying the attorney a huge fee, this proved to be untrue. We were told that we still needed to get his consent to help even though he was unable to think rationally.

How to Change Policing? New Service To Help People In Crisis The van has been on the streets of Denver since the beginning of June. It follows four years of a so-called, co-responding program in Denver which has put experts on social work, mental health and addiction into police cars with officers.

Report Shows Rate of Mental Illness in California Jails is On the Rise The data analyzed from 2009-2019 indicated that the number of California statewide jail inmates with an active mental health case or a prescription for psychotropic medication increased significantly. In 2009, there was an average of approximately 15,500 open mental health cases reported by counties on a monthly basis. By 2019, this number jumped to about 22,000. This is a 42% increase in the number of open mental health cases in county jails.

Amid Calls to Defund Police, Albuquerque Creates an Alternative Department Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller (D) announced the formation of a new public safety department designed to relieve stress on the city’s police. Instead of the police or fire departments responding to 911 calls related to inebriation, homelessness, addiction and mental health, the new division will deploy unarmed personnel made up of social workers, housing and homelessness specialists, and violence prevention coordinators.

Time to Bring Back Crisis Intervention Team The Rockford Police Department training scenario described a frightened mother calling the police because her son was in a psychiatric crisis. In the training scenario, four officers were sent to the home to respond. The fact that four armed, uniformed officers arrive at a person’s home who is in psychiatric crisis would exacerbate the crisis.

Instead of Arrest, New Diversion Program to Offer Resources Local law and justice officials will use nearly $1.7 million in state funding to bring to Snohomish County a widely lauded program that aims to halt the cycle that keeps people circling from the streets to behind bars and back again. The program is known as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, or LEAD. Developed in Seattle in 2011, it’s one of many efforts that partners law enforcement with social and health service providers to address deeper motivations for criminal behavior, reduce recidivism and save taxpayer dollars.

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