Chief Administrative Judge Marks Discusses the Task Force’s Work and Goals

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Task Force and Task Force Member Activities

Chief Administrative Judge Marks Discusses the Task Force’s Work and Goals In the second of eight interviews of the National Judicial Task Force Executive Committee members, New York Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, a Task Force co-chair, discusses why the Task Force is needed, what needs to happen for its work to lead to real change, and what New York is doing to help people with mental illness who find themselves in the state court system.

New Learning Community to Explore Person-Centered Justice in the Courts The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the National Center for State Courts (NCSC) are offering a virtual Community of Practice for interdisciplinary teams seeking to implement effective criminal case management for people with behavioral health needs. The Community of Practice will include both one-on-one consultation and opportunities for peer learning and sharing. This series is supported by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. Apply by June 4, 2021, for the opportunity to participate in this joint community of practice.

The Definition of Insanity: Virtual Film Screening and Panel Discussion Join the Miami Foundation for Mental Health, the Matthew Harris Ornstein Memorial Foundation, Addiction Policy Forum and Columbia University on Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 3pm for this special exploration of the PBS documentary The Definition of Insanity. Speakers include Judge Steven Leifman, Norm Ornstein, and filmmaker Rob Reiner. Shocked by how people with mental illness were treated in Miami-Dade’s jails, Judge Steve Leifman works with a team of dedicated public servants, as well as former adversaries in the criminal justice system, to help people with mental illness navigate from lives of tragedy to possibility.

Research and Resources

Answering the Call to Action: A Vision for All Californians’ Behavioral Health Our proposed standard for behavioral health care gives equal access to a variety of inter-related elements of prevention and care — regardless of where individuals reside and who insures them. This continuum of care is not intended as a menu of optional services from which a health plan or county might choose, but rather a full continuum we should strive to build in every part of the state. This document provides a coherent set of community-based prevention and early intervention strategies, outpatient care, and a range of 24-hour services that reduce hospitalization, institutional and long-term care, and incarceration.

Systemic, Racial Justice–Informed Solutions to Shift “Care” From the Criminal Legal System to the Mental Health Care System Responsibility for addressing the needs of those with severe mental illness should rest with the mental health system but people with severe mental illness remain overrepresented in our criminal legal system. Given the racial inequities that exist in both the criminal legal and mental health systems, reforms must consider the impacts of systemic racism and take intentional action. Learn more in the most recent paper in the Think Bigger Do Good series by Task Force member Sara Vinson, MD and Andrea Dennis, JD.

Mental Wellbeing Resource Hub As the world faces unprecedented fear and uncertainty, the mental health community understands that we are stronger together. That’s why PsychHub teamed up with the nation’s most credible mental health organizations to collaborate on a free resource hub to help people address their mental wellbeing needs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

NASMHPD Update The resource and news publication of the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

TAC Third Thursday Webinar: Sequential Intercept Mapping and the Role of AOT The Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) is a systematic approach to the over-representation of people with SMI in the criminal justice system. At its heart is the understanding that people move through “the system” in predictable ways, and that solutions need to address all the steps from arrest to release from corrections. Mark Munetz, MD, creator of this conceptual model will review SIM and address AOT at every intercept.

Prevalence, Comorbidity, and Continuity of Psychiatric Disorders in a 15-Year Longitudinal Study of Youths Involved in the Juvenile Justice System In this cohort study of 1829 youths who were detained in a juvenile justice facility, 64% of males and 35% of females with a psychiatric disorder during detention had a disorder 15 years later. Substance use and behavioral disorders were more common among non-Hispanic White youths than Hispanic and Black youths. This study’s findings suggest that persistent psychiatric disorders may complicate the transition from adolescence to adulthood among youths who have been detained in a juvenile justice facility; the pediatric health community should advocate for early identification and treatment of disorders among this population.

Gene–Environment Correlations and Causal Effects of Childhood Maltreatment on Physical and Mental Health: A Genetically Informed Approach This Lancet piece examines the genetic components of child maltreatment and the potential link to future mental health diagnoses. The researchers found “a potential causal role of childhood maltreatment in depression (unidirectional), as well as both schizophrenia and ADHD (bidirectional), but not in physical health conditions.”

TAC Research Weekly: What is the True Prevalence of Schizophrenia in the United States? An article published in Schizophrenia Research in April 2021 proposes a new method for calculating the prevalence rate of schizophrenia in the United States. Using this method, the prevalence estimate of schizophrenia is 1.624%, or 3.8 million adults based on data from the 2010 census. This rate is significantly higher than other schizophrenia prevalence estimates from previous studies, including being more than 2.5 times what is published on the NIMH website.

Part 2 of the Webinar Series - From Siloes to Collaboration: Linking Health Care, Public Safety, and Behavioral Health Part 2 of this series focuses on planning considerations and practical steps for adapting cross-disciplinary partnership models to support individuals with mental and substance use disorders within diverse regional settings. Participants will hear from a local program about strategies for planning, scaling, and implementing behavioral health and criminal legal system partnerships that are consistent with identified regional needs and resources, such as population size, geographic size, staffing, training needs, technological supports, and funding.

Integrating Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) Teams into Early Diversion Response (Part 3 of series) Forensic assertive community treatment (FACT) teams are well-researched and effective programs for individuals who are involved in the criminal legal system, many of whom experience homelessness and are involved in multiple systems of care and support. However, access to FACT teams may be limited due to funding or functional requirements. On May 20, a webinar and discussion group from SAMHSA’s GAINS Center will provide an update on FACT research and discuss approaches to funding, criminal legal system partnerships, and improving access to FACT services.

COSSAP Webinar: Law Enforcement-Led Diversion and Mental Health and Opioid Outreach Innovations The purpose of this presentation is to demonstrate the significant impact first responder-led diversion can have in connecting overdose survivors and those with mental health disorders to treatment. Retired Deputy Chief Mitch Cunningham from the Wilmington, North Carolina Police Department and Sheriff Daron Hall from the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office in Nashville, Tennessee will highlight the need for diversion and cite examples of the successful programs they have implemented.

Adopting a Trauma-Informed Approach in Drug Treatment Courts: Resources for Judges, Court Staff, and Providers Trauma-informed courts acknowledge the prevalence of trauma among people involved in the criminal legal system as well as the risk for vicarious trauma among professionals working in these settings. This webinar will cover key concepts on the importance of adopting a trauma-informed approach in drug treatment courts and provide practical information on how to implement trauma-informed practices.

Upcoming SAMHSA GAINS Center Webinars SAMHSA's GAINS Center is covering essential topics through its upcoming national webinars, Virtual Learning Community webinars, and Community of Practice National Webinars.

New Funding Opportunity - BJA's FY 2021 COSSAP Site-Based Solicitation and Webinar BJA is seeking applications to develop, implement, or expand comprehensive programs in response to illicit opioids, stimulants, or other substances of abuse through COSSAP.

New Publication: MOUD Toolkit for Treatment Courts NADCP's MOUD Toolkit for Treatment Courts provides practical resources for programs to implement systems to offer medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) to their participants in a safe, legal, and scientifically sound manner. This collection of sample documents and other tools is intended for treatment courts implementing or preparing to implement MOUD programs.

Recording Link: COVID-19 and the Future of Behavioral Health Care Delivery This recording of a recent NASMHPD webinar explores the experiences and implications of telehealth practice and policy during COVID-19 and beyond from provider, payer and state perspectives.

Choosing a Competent Forensic Mental Health Expert: A Guide for Legal Practitioners Considering the role forensic mental health experts may play within the judicial system and the variation in standard practices among evaluators, it is reasonable that an attorney, tasked with zealously advocating for the client, may be focused on retaining the most knowledgeable and competent evaluator. However, the legal and psycholegal literatures lack any substantial guidance for attorneys on identifying characteristics of an effective mental health evaluator. How can an attorney distinguish a “good evaluator” from a “bad evaluator”? What are specific criteria attorneys can use to evaluate the quality of a FMHA report? The article provides attorneys with tangible factors to consider when retaining and consulting with a forensic mental health evaluator. (Westlaw link)

Justice Briefing: Your Guide to the American Rescue Plan Our new resource, American Rescue Plan Act of 2021: Guide to Advancing Justice-Related Goals, outlines need-to-know information about how states and local communities can leverage $1.9 trillion in funding to advance eight key criminal justice priorities, including:

  • Expanding access to safe and stable housing and supports
  • Increasing access to education for people in the juvenile and criminal justice systems; and
  • Reducing criminal justice involvement for people with behavioral health needs

Toolkits & Resources for Mental Health & Substance Use Topics - The Kennedy Forum Illinois May is Mental Health Month every year – but our work is year-round, day in and day out, working to eliminate the stigma against people living with mental health and substance use disorders. Below is a host of toolkits and resources curated by The Kennedy Forum in our never-ending efforts to advance the conversation and change the system:

One-Page Toolkits:

Community Violence & Child Trauma


Mental Health and Addiction on Campus

Mental Health Parity

Mentally Healthy Work-Place


Opioid Crisis

Employment for People with Mental Health Conditions

Medical Necessity

Racial & Ethnic Disparities

SAMHSA Headlines Blog: There are ways you can intervene to help prevent someone from acting on thoughts of suicide; New Publication: Routine Administration of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Psychosis as the Standard of Care for Individuals Seeking Treatment for Psychosis; and funding opportunities, including First Responders—Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act Grants.

CFF - Learn More About Our Family Treatment Court TTA Program This Children and Family Futures newsletter includes information about the upcoming Family Drug Court funding opportunity, a Family Treatment Court Practice Academy, and a link to the Family Treatment Court Best Practice Standards.

Updates on Deflection with PTACC Louisville PD exploring deflection; Making Housing a Priority; Stigma of Addiction, and Tribal PH Summits.

SOAR Eligibility: Guidance for Identification and Inclusion he SAMSHA SOAR TA Center is working to reduce the influence of implicit bias and to encourage diversity, equity, and inclusion during the process of identifying potential applicants to support with SOAR-assisted SSI/SSDI applications. We have developed guidance for caseworkers to consider regarding how a potential applicant’s racial, ethnic, and cultural views regarding disabilities, diagnoses, symptoms, and treatment, as well as their socio-economic and homelessness status, may factor into the caseworker’s decision to involve them in the SOAR-assisted SSI/SSDI application process.

In the News

Virginia Is First State to Pass 988 Service Fee Legislation Under the 988 service fee, consumers with a subscription wireless plan will pay 12 cents monthly, while those who use prepaid wireless services will pay 8 cents per retail transaction. Money from the 988 tax will go into the newly created Crisis Call Center Fund and be spent on the crisis system along the entire continuum of care. That includes the crisis call center, community care, mobile crisis teams, crisis stabilization centers, and the Mental Health Awareness Response and Community Understanding Services (Marcus) alert system.

Serious Mental Illnesses Are More Deadly Than Covid, Tim Murphy Argues. So Why Aren’t We Doing More? Former Rep. Tim Murphy (R.-Pa.) wrote and pushed the most significant federal mental health legislation in decades through Congress during the final days of the Obama Administration. In this OP Ed first published in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, he argues that serious mental illnesses are claiming more lives than COVID and calls for reforms, many of which, were stripped from his original bill.

CDC Updates List of Health Conditions that Can Increase the Risk of Severe Illness from COVID-19 to include Substance Use Disorders Health officials have released an update that individuals with substance use disorders (SUD) are at a heightened risk for serious complications from COVID-19 and underscored the importance for individuals with SUD and their caregivers to get vaccinated.

'Housing is health care': It's 30% cheaper to provide housing to people with mental illness Most significantly, a person's health care costs decreased by almost $20,000 per year when they were living in a housing program that provides on-site behavioral and medical supports, the report found.

Court: Mental Health Patient’s Rights Violated In Emergency Room Boarding Case The New Hampshire State Supreme Court ruled Tuesday a person certified for involuntary commitment to a designated receiving facility was denied her statutory right to due process within three days as required by statute. The decision results from the longstanding problem of people suffering from a mental health crisis being boarded in hospital emergency rooms for days and weeks because there’s no room in the state’s psychiatric facility. In the case of Jane Doe v. the Department of Health and Human Services, she was held against her will for 17 days in an emergency room.

Alternative to prison to be allowed in Washington for some who have mental illness The program will be open to individuals who are convicted of a felony crime that is not a serious violent offense or a sex offense. In order to qualify, the person would have to be willing to participate in the sentencing alternative, and the court would have to determine the individual would benefit from community-based supervision and treatment.

Wristbands to help first responders ID individuals with mental illness during a crisis The York County Crisis Intervention Team gathered Thursday to give away the first of 5,000 wristbands that they hope will help identify an individual diagnosed with mental illness in the event first responders need to interact with them in a crisis situation. The wristbands will also be worn by police who are a trained CIT officer.

Clark County to become 1st to build closer-to-home mental health facilities The campus will be comprised of three 16-bed facilities, at least one of which will be run by the state. The campus will operate much like one of Washington’s state hospitals — but closer to the homes of people who are receiving treatment. Officials said that’s the point of the expansion. “It solves the problem of isolating the person away from their community,” Dr. Brian Waiblinger, chief medical officer of the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services.

Opioid-Related News and the Courts Weekly Review An NCSC resource with links to state and national news related to opioids and the courts.

Suggestions from Georgia's mental health commission largely ignored this legislative session Last year, as Georgia endured the strain of COVID-19, a blue-ribbon commission quietly held regular meetings about how to improve mental health services in the state. The panel issued its report in January, just as the state Legislature convened in Atlanta for its annual session. The experts had spent over a year developing more than 50 recommended changes to the state’s laws, policies and budgetary priorities that they believed would improve the mental health of Georgians. Yet nothing came of the panel’s recommendations. Legislators finished their session at the end of March and went home without taking action on the mental health proposals.

US prisons hold more than 550,000 people with intellectual disabilities - they face exploitation, harsh treatment The rate of both physical and intellectual disability among the prison population is disproportionately high. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 26% of Americans report any kind of disability. Of those, 10.8% reported a cognitive disability. This is less than half of the proportion of those in prisons. And rates appear to be on the rise – in 2011-2012, 32% of people incarcerated in prisons reported a disability, with 19% stating a cognitive disability. High as they are, these rates are likely to be an underestimate.

New Merced County homeless court aims to provide resources rather than jail and fines Rather than paying fines or serving jail time for infractions and misdemeanors, the Merced County Superior Court’s new Homeless Court program provides alternatives to addressing minor offenses while helping the unhoused get back on stable ground. The program is the latest of the county’s Collaborative Courts, which also include behavioral health, drug treatment and veteran’s courts. These court programs provide incentives and support services for individuals navigating challenges of substance abuse, mental illness and other social welfare issues.

A Hartford man’s struggles with mental health and addiction ended in a fatal encounter with his son. ‘He fell through every hole they had in the system.’ The fatal stabbing of a Hartford man last weekend marked a tragic collision of drug addiction and under-treated mental health issues that exploded into violence between a father and son inside a Grafton Street apartment.

Northern Michigan Sheriff Makes Plea for Better Mental Health Resources A Northern Michigan sheriff is making a plea for better mental health resources after a severe mental health crisis led one of his residents to slam their vehicle into a tree at 100 mph after unsuccessfully seeking help repeatedly.

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