June SJI Newsletter This State Justice Institute newsletter highlights the CCJ/COSCA National Judicial Task Force to Examine the State Courts' Response to Mental Illness and the recently issued transition report, as well as the SJI Funding Toolkit.
Addressing Court Workplace Mental Health and Well-Being Webinar This NCSC sponsored webinar was presented on June 25th, and over 1,000 participants joined. A recording of the webinar is available at the above link, and the webinar materials are also now posted.
Research and Resources
SJI Request for Applications - Court Pandemic Response and Recovery Through this solicitation, the State Justice Institute seeks to support projects that look to the future of judicial service delivery by identifying and replicating innovations and alternate means of conducting court business because of the pandemic. SJI will give priority consideration for funding to projects that focus on institutionalizing and/or replicating practices that were implemented during the pandemic.
NCSC can provide assistance to courts in developing an application. Topics could include addressing competency delays, involuntary commitments, assisted outpatient treatment, and mental health courts, among other potential topics. Contact Laura Klaversma at 303-308-4301 or email@example.com if you are interested in developing an application.
City & County Leadership to Reduce the Use of Jails: Engaging Peers in Jail Use Reduction Strategies This new National League of Cities and PRI publication highlights some of the policy and funding opportunities city and county leaders can explore to build on the success of early examples of communities that have utilized peer support as part of their continuum of care and in justice related interventions.
I Wish I Knew Then What I Know Now: Looking to the Objective Science in Evaluating Juveniles’ (In)Competency A defendant must be competent to stand trial. Generally, competency becomes an issue when the defendant has a mental illness or mental impairment. While these both can and often do apply to juveniles, many states fail to recognize this and either have no competency requirements for juveniles or use adult standards. Recently, modern technology has provided means to conduct objective studies that further support the argument that juvenile statutes should be redefined in order to be specific to juvenile competency. Southwestern Law Review
A Call for Racial Equity in the Courts & Health Systems While the Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative has previously emphasized the importance of addressing racial inequalities in our work, today we commit to doing more intentional work to advance equitable health and justice outcomes across seven core areas. This release details those efforts, and links to related resources.
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. Applications will continue to be accepted beyond July 15.
SJC Virtual Behavioral Health Meeting The Safety and Justice Challenge recently sponsored a two-day virtual meeting to learn more about local jail population reduction efforts for persons with behavioral health disorders. Recordings of the proceedings and related materials are available.
Justice Briefing: Using State Agencies to Support Local Work This edition of the CSG Justice Center newsletter includes information about how State Administering Agencies can help jurisdictions meet their goals; a webinar on workforce training for youth; states tackle data-sharing; and more.
Justice Center Newsletter Council of State Governments Justice Center publication with tools for police to more effectively respond to people with mental illnesses; apply for free technical assistance; funding opportunities; and information about a Court Case Processing Learning Collaborative.
Building an Organizational Culture That Values First Responder Diversion The number of law enforcement and first responder-led diversion programs is rapidly increasing across the country, linking individuals with substance use and mental health disorders to community-based treatment and support services. The success of these programs relies on the willingness of frontline officers, firefighters, and emergency medical service technicians to participate in their implementation. This BJA and COSSAP webinar will address how law enforcement leaders can successfully advance change within their agencies.
National AOT Judges Meeting TAC and Brian Stettin will lead a discussion session specifically for AOT judges, magistrates and hearing officers. (We kindly request that others do not register, but we promise to make the recording available to all afterwards.) This introductory discussion will focus on building community and addressing common issues AOT judges face. Participants will decide on future topics of conversation and frequency of meetings.
The Rundown This PEW newsletter addresses telehealth opioid treatment, and racial equity in the COVID-19 environment.
Upcoming SAMHSA Webinars SAMHSA's GAINS Center is covering essential topics through its upcoming national webinars and its three Virtual Learning Community webinar and discussion group series: Data and Information Sharing, Crisis Response Models, and Leveraging Teleservices in Drug Courts to Improve Treatment Access.
SAMHSA's GAINS Center's Crisis Response Models Virtual Learning Community Individuals who experience mental health crises may also be in need of physical health care. This webinar, hosted by SAMHSA's GAINS Center, will explore two models for integrated mental health and physical health mobile crisis response. Both models highlighted coordinate with law enforcement, although neither has officers represented on the team.
42 CFR Part 2 is Revised SAMHSA, announces the adoption of the revised Confidentiality of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records regulation, 42 CFR Part 2. The adoption of this revised rule represents a historic step in expanding care coordination and quality through the Deputy Secretary’s Regulatory Sprint to Coordinated Care. A fact sheet is also included.
Transform to Teleservices: Part II—Innovative Approaches to Substance Use Disorder Treatment Happening Now in Drug Courts Several drug courts across the country have successfully leveraged teleservices in order to increase client access to medication-assisted treatment as well as a range of evidence-based psychosocial supports for the treatment of substance use disorders (SUD). Part II of this Virtual Learning Community webinar series will feature presentations from drug court practitioners and substance use treatment providers who will outline the various approaches they have taken to integrate teleservices in drug court.
Positive Changes to Pretrial Policy During COVIDAn as-yet-unpublished survey of pretrial practices during the pandemic was released to the Crime Report by the National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA). One of the primary changes noted in the survey was the decrease of pretrial jail populations. Other significant changes reported in the survey included reduced police contact with civilians, resulting in an 84.57 percent decrease in custodial arrests, most court hearings being postponed, and bail amounts decreased by 59.88 percent.
SAMHSA Headlines SAMHSA Headlines—Your one-stop source for the latest from SAMHSA.
PTACC Ticker Thursday, July 9th This Police, Treatment and Community Collaborative newsletter includes An Assessment of Officer Attitudes Toward the Training and Use of a Pre-arrest Booking Diversionary Program, and the launch of a virtual community for front line responders.
BHIVE Newsletter The National Council for Behavioral Health newsletter focuses on COVID-19 resources and includes a request to participate in a tele-behavioral health survey.
Introduction to Drug-Endangered Children Awareness: Identifying Drug-Endangered Children - A Collaborative Approach This webinar will provide introductory information on identifying and supporting children impacted by parental or caregiver substance abuse.
Schizophrenia and Related Disorders Alliance of America (SARDAA) July Newsletter Includes an interview with Brian Stettin, Treatment Advocacy Center and Eric Smith: Help for People Who Fall Through the Cracks - How AOT Helps! Also includes a link to Brains on the Beach Virtual Event with a keynote by Judge Steve Leifman, and other resources.
TAC Research Weekly: Recovery Barriers for People with Serious Mental Illness Post-Incarceration Incarceration complicates and sometimes negatively impacts the recovery prospects for individuals with serious mental illness. The common issues faced by anyone involved in the criminal justice system are exacerbated for those with serious mental illness, making their odds of recidivism high and odds of recovering lower. A new study recently released in Psychological Services validates these claims and backs them up with empirical evidence.
SAMHSA Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) on Matters 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.
National Council for Behavioral Health COVID-19 Resources Updated list of resources on topics such as telehealth, funding, and practice guidelines.
COVID-19 Mental Health Townhall As challenges facing behavioral health systems and the mental health of our communities come to the forefront, public health, legislative, community and business leaders face difficult decisions around addressing these immense burdens in the months and years to come. The National Council for Behavioral Health in partnership with the National Conference of State Legislatures, with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is holding a special COVID-19 Mental Health Townhall to answer questions from members, providers and policymakers nationwide.
Reducing Racial and Ethnic Disparities: A Non-Comprehensive Checklist The W. Haywood Burns Institute works to build local capacity to engage in meaningful dialogue about the historical and current dynamics that contribute to the overrepresentation of people of color in the justice system. This checklist and a related data exercise template can be used by criminal justice agencies to identify and address existing deficiencies.
Mental Health Courts: The Silver Bullet Made of Rubber Ultimately, mental health courts can, and do, have a positive impact on recidivism rates. However, arguably, these courts are operated so inconsistently that they are likely not operating to their fullest potential. To allow mental health courts to function more efficiently than they currently do, they need to have more uniform implementation. Kansas Journal of Law & Public Policy (Westlaw link)
In the News
Justice Dept. Plans To Execute Convicted Killer With Schizophrenia & Dementia Unaware Of Why He’s Being Killed Pointing to the Trump Administration’s commitment to “addressing the needs of individuals with serious mental illnesses” and arguing that “proceeding with his execution would violate the U.S. Constitution’s prohibition on executing people who are not competent to understand the reason for their execution,” three of the country’s leading mental health organizations today submitted a letter strongly urging the Trump Administration to withdraw the July 15 execution date of federal death row prisoner Wes Purkey, and to commute his sentence to life imprisonment without possibility of parole.
Who Responds to Nonviolent Crises? New Urgency to Remove Police from the Equation Many California cities are moving ahead already.
- San Francisco Mayor London Breed announced last month that trained, unarmed professionals will soon replace police officers in responding to noncriminal crises involving people who are homeless or have mental illness, among others.
- Last week, Oakland’s City Council voted to fund a $1.35 million pilot program that will send emergency medical technicians and trained counselors to respond to non-violent calls.
- Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg has pledged to reallocate some police resources so that non-law-enforcement personnel can respond to such calls.
- The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to have the city develop a model for unarmed crisis response that would divert nonviolent calls for service away from the police department.
This Town of 170,000 Replaced Some Cops with Medics and Mental Health Workers. It's Worked for Over 30 Years CAHOOTS workers responded to 24,000 calls in 2019 -- about 20% of total dispatches. About 150 of those required police backup. CAHOOTS says the program saves the city about $8.5 million in public safety costs every year, plus another $14 million in ambulance trips and ER costs.
Senators Call for CMS to Provide Plan for Telehealth Changes The relaxation of many regulations from HHS has helped to ease the way toward a massive telehealth expansion amid COVID-19. But as the senators note, that progress has been tinged with uncertainty about which of those regulation changes, if any, will be made permanent. In the letter, the group of senators explained that any written plan outlining permanent changes should include "sufficient public notice and comment periods in order to ensure that these permanent changes are not at the expense of access for patients in rural or underserved communities, patient privacy, protections against fraud, waste, and abuse, or quality of patient care."
When Cities Replace Police with Social WorkersThe argument for cutting the police out of many crisis situations is bolstered by some data analyzed by the New York Times that shows reports of violent crimes only make up around 1% of 911 calls in many major cities. In a few jurisdictions that post online more comprehensive data, the analysis found police spent about 4% of their time on violent crime. Calls where people are more likely to just need services—like a tow truck, help getting to a domestic violence shelter, or assistance with mental illness—make up a much more significant chunk of calls.
Mental Illness: A Condition, Not a Crime Allocating resources to train first responders to identify and address mental illness can help prevent unnecessary incarceration of those with mental health disorders for petty crime or otherwise avoidable escalations of police encounters when no crime has been committed. Better yet, though, allocating resources to develop special crisis response teams that are trained specifically to handle individuals with mental illness can ensure that these individuals are directed to where they’ll get the most appropriate care for their conditions and needs—and often with better outcomes and at a lower cost than a correctional facility.
Defunding the Police and Serious Mental Illness: Opportunities, Hard Questions, Dangers The defund the police movement has sparked conversations about shifting responsibility for the seriously mentally ill away from law enforcement back where it belongs – on social services and the medical community. This is a great opportunity for improving mental health care, but we must be realistic and answer some tough questions.
Stop Unnecessary Arrests to Slow Coronavirus SpreadThere is no public safety reason to incarcerate a vast majority of these people. Nonviolent offenses account for 95 percent of the more than 10 million arrests in America every year. Most of these can be effectively and safely managed with citations, summons, community service requirements, food support, mental health referrals, housing and other alternatives to incarceration.
Coronavirus has Big Impact on Mental Health The Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the mental health of children and parents, according to the first report of 2020 published today by the Child Care Law Reporting project. The CCLRP has published 46 further reports of cases heard in various courts in the first half of this year and illustrates how the coronavirus pandemic has caused further problems for already vulnerable children and families - many of whom were already facing mental health difficulties. According to the published reports there was a "disproportionate" number of cases where either the parent or the child suffers from mental illness.
A Failure of Care: One Family’s Harrowing Journey Reveals Inadequacy of Mental Health Services “We know the importance of treating at the first psychotic break.” Science points to changes that occur within the brain during each episode, making treatment more challenging. A 2008 study printed in World Psychiatry, the official journal of the World Psychiatric Association, states, “Withholding treatment until severe and less reversible symptomatic and functional impairment have become entrenched represents a failure of care.”
Consumer Activist Outlines “The Pathway to Dignity and True Mental Health System Reform” There are a number of freedoms to aspire and commit to and, in some instances, to celebrate today. Freedom from attacks by some on choice, rights and privacy protections, especially around the right to choose or refuse treatment and where it’s delivered…and the freedom to have access to meaningful legal assistance and psychiatric advance directives. Freedom to accept or reject diagnoses, terms like recovery or treatments that might limit how we define ourselves and the course of our lives. Freedom from criminalization, from needless escalations, abuse, arrests, incarcerations, from the torture of solitary confinement...or brutal death.
New Program Diverts Some 911 Calls from Police to a Mental Health Team The STAR program sends one paramedic and one mental health clinician to answer 911 dispatched calls dealing with mental health, addiction, and homelessness. The team does not wear uniforms or carry weapons and their van is unmarked. It is a model cities across the country are looking at as they try to solve public health problems rather than criminalize mental health and addiction.
Excelsior to Treat Unwilling Patients under Ricky's Law Spokane’s Excelsior Youth Center is now prepared to treat minors who have been placed in inpatient treatment involuntarily for behavioral health and addiction issues. So far, the North Spokane organization is the only Safe Withdrawal Management and Stabilization facility in the state ready to accept patients under Washington’s Involuntary Treatment Act.
Family Argues OC Criminal Case Raises Issues of Race, Mental Health Evaluation in Justice System The family of Donté Epps, a 29-year-old Black man arrested for attacking his female roommate last year, argue Orange County prosecutors have over charged him, noting his situation epitomizes the emerging debate over criminalizing people of color with mental health crises.
Drug Courts, Officer De-escalation Programs Impacted by MIDD Cuts Sixteen programs that King County funds as part of its Mental Illness and Drug Dependency program saw their budgets cut by $12 million. These programs administer everything from youth drug diversion courts to officer de-escalation training. But unlike many other county programs, the Mental Illness and Drug Dependency funding comes entirely from sales tax revenue. When the coronavirus pandemic and consequent social distancing orders arrived this spring, sales tax revenue plummeted.
Crisis Stabilization Units Eye Expansion A year after the Northwest Arkansas Crisis Stabilization Unit opened, offering an alternative to incarcerating people with mental health problems, local and state officials say they are looking to expand the facility's service area.
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