Chief Justice Robinson Discusses the Task Force’s Work and Goals

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Task Force and Task Force Member Activities

Chief Justice Robinson Discusses the Task Force’s Work and Goals In the third of eight interviews of the National Judicial Task Force Executive Committee members, Connecticut Chief Justice Richard Robinson, Co-chair of the Criminal Justice Work Group, discusses how the Task Force’s work will lead to real change, what he hopes the Work Group will accomplish, and what challenges his state is facing.

New Resource Guide for Justice System on Substance Use Disorders Released Chief Justice Paul Reiber and Chief Administrative Judge Lawrence Marks, as the Co-Chairs of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Court Responses to Mental Illness, are pleased to share with you a newly published resource guide for judges. Initially started as a collaboration between the CCJ/COSCA National Judicial Opioid Task Force and the American Academy of Addiction Psychiatry, the Guide provides a comprehensive review of a broad range of behavioral health issues and will be an excellent resource for trial judges and state judicial educators.

Judges Sought for Research Focus Group: Criminal Justice and the Policy and Practice Challenges of DementiaFor older persons, there has been no systematic effort to understand the impact of age-related brain changes in criminal prosecution or the corrections system. As our population ages and the prevalence of cognitive impairments among older persons increases, multiple issues related to the interface between persons with aging-related cognitive impairment (i.e., dementia) and the criminal justice system need to be addressed. The research investigators, including Task Force member Dr. Deb Pinals, seek judges to participate in a focus group. Please contact Patti Tobias at for details.

Pima County Site Visit Registration Open To secure a spot for one of the site visits to Pima County, Arizona, contact Darcy Hitt at Two events are currently scheduled, October 7-8 and November 8-9, 2021.

Research and Resources

CSG Justice Center Justice Briefing A brief on How to Survey Participants for Feedback on Behavioral Health-Criminal Justice Programs, how federal funds can support violence reduction, mental health grants for schools and an upcoming event - Community of Practice: Creating Housing Opportunities for People with Complex Health Needs Leaving the Justice System.

SAMHSA Sponsored Webinar - Scaling Up 988: On the Road to the Ideal Crisis System It is expected that by July 2022, 988 will be the new, memorable, nationwide phone number for Americans in crisis to connect with suicide prevention and mental health crisis counselors. While this is an important milestone in the ongoing evolution of the crisis services spectrum, it presents several unique challenges and opportunities for providers. This session will explore the implementation considerations of 988 for behavioral health providers within the framework outlined in the Roadmap to the Ideal Crisis System.

The Foundation of Practical Application of Risk, Need, and Responsivity in the Age of COVID-19 and Justice Reform Risk and need (RNR) assessments have been administered in the criminal justice system for decades but often have not influenced professional decision-making in appropriate ways. Especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic and urgent need for criminal justice reform, practitioners and policy makers must understand what RNR is and how it should be applied correctly to enhance both public health and public safety. This webinar seeks to define the core principles and practical application of Risk-Need-Responsivity along with strategies to create and maintain critical collaborative relationships to achieve reentry goals.

Webinar: Fentanyl in Treatment Courts NADCP's National Drug Court Institute Drug Court U is presenting a free webinar on what treatment court teams and other stakeholders need to know about fentanyl to better serve participants. The live webinar is presented by pharmacology expert Steve Hanson.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment: Improving Outcomes and Saving Money Assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) is a tool in the toolbox for civil courts and mental health systems to work collaboratively to help individuals with serious mental illness caught in a cycle of repeat hospitalizations, homelessness, and incarcerations. Individuals who benefit from AOT have a history of inconsistent engagement with treatment often due to diminished awareness of the need for treatment. AOT aims to motivate and assist individuals with serious mental illness to engage in treatment and ensure that the mental health system is attentive to their needs.

How Police and Other First Responders Can Create Recovery Pathways for People with Substance Use Disorders This webinar will explain how many people begin to misuse both legal and illegal drugs including the impact of childhood trauma, the effects of substances on brain chemistry and how changes to brain chemistry can impact an individual’s behavior, and barriers to treatment for people with SUD. The presenter will also demonstrate how police officers, other first responders, and medical, behavioral health, and human services staff can contribute to, and more effectively support, long-term recovery and other positive outcomes for individual’s affected by opioids, stimulants, and other substances

Upcoming SAMHSA Webinars and Discussion Groups The Future of Teleservices in Drug Courts (Part 3): Implementing Teleservices for Court Proceedings and Treatment, and Early Diversion Virtual Learning Community (Part 5): Supporting Safety Through 911 and Crisis Call Line Integration.

SAMHSA Headlines Your one-stop source for the latest news and resources from SAMHSA.

Webinar July 29: Taking a Trauma-Informed Approach with Events of Escalation Among individuals experiencing homelessness, there is a high prevalence of complex trauma, chronic health conditions, and serious mental illness. Trauma, compounded with acute health conditions, often impacts an individual’s ability to manage their distress. Join SAMHSA’s Homeless and Housing Resource Center as our panelists explore using trauma-informed, compassionate, and respectful de-escalation techniques when aiding participants and staff during and after events of escalation.

Webinar: Beyond Employee Assistance Programs, July 15 This free webinar convenes experts in the fields of trauma, hope, love, and the importance of taking care of those who take care of others. Join us as we discuss the lasting impact of trauma and how to take care of yourself and the people in organizations as we look to the future.

COSSAP Webinar: Peer Recovery Support Services in Tribal Communities During this webinar, participants will receive an overview of peer recovery support services (PRSS) as part of a comprehensive program to address substance abuse within tribal communities; explore specific models of PRSS implementation within tribal communities; identify benefits of PRSS as well as common challenges and barriers; and examine important considerations related to building comprehensive intervention strategies to respond to alcohol and substance abuse issues in tribal communities including PRSS.

Telehealth for the Treatment of Serious Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders This SAMHSA guide reviews ways that telehealth modalities can be used to provide treatment for serious mental illness and substance use disorders among adults, distills the research into recommendations for practice, and provides examples of how these recommendations can be implemented.

New Evidence-Based, Web-Enabled Support Tool from BJA COSSAP and RTI International developed an evidence-based, web-enabled telehealth implementation support tool (TIST) to support jails in implementing or expanding telehealth and other virtual services.

NASMHPD Update News and resources from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

Seeking Nominations for Rural Innovation Sites The Rural Justice Collaborative (RJC) is soliciting nominations for rural justice programs or initiatives that were developed in rural communities or adapted for rural communities. Twenty-five innovations will be featured in a publication co-authored by the RJC and the Deason Center. Created by the National Center for State Courts, in partnership with Rulo Strategies, the RJC showcases the strengths of rural communities and highlights the cross-sector collaboration that is a hallmark of rural justice systems. Nominated programs should address one of the RJC’s seven areas of focus: (1) increasing access to behavioral health treatment, (2) reducing victimization, (3) facilitating employment and educational opportunities for justice-involved individuals, (4) eliminating barriers to access to justice, (5) reducing incarceration and recidivism, (6) facilitating reentry, and (7) reducing the number of children in foster care due to familial substance use.

Data Undermines “Tough on Crime” Narratives, Showing the Success of Efforts to Safely Reduce Jail Populations New data released recently from criminal justice researchers at the JFA and the ISLG indicate that efforts to reduce the misuse and overuse of jails have occurred alongside an overall decline in crime rates.

Mental Wellbeing Weekly - News, Resources and Learning Opportunities Announcements of CCBHC grants, and webinar schedules.

Justice Community Opioid Innovation Network (JCOIN) Newsletter Research and funding resources for opioid treatment and other interventions.

Updated CDC Guidelines on COVID-19 and Addiction The webinar speakers will be discussing CDC's recent addition of substance use disorder (SUD) to the list of medical conditions that can make people more likely to get severely ill from COVID-19. This addition highlights the importance for individuals with SUD and their caregivers to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

In the News

A Mental Health Crisis Is Not a Crime Every 10 years, following a national census, the Constitution requires states to draw districts for each of the newly reapportioned 435 seats in the House of Representatives. Since districts were last drawn in 2011, law enforcement officers have killed a person in every one of them. The Mental Health Justice Act, which was introduced in the House in February, would create a national grant program to pay for first responder units made up of mental health providers on the local level.

In Oklahoma, People in Need and First Responders Get iPads for Rapid Face-to-Face Mental Health Response In Northeast Oklahoma, there are nearly 6,000 “mental health machine” iPads in circulation. With just the press of a button, first responders, hospitals, and people in crisis can immediately connect face-to-face with the Grand Lake Mental Health Center crisis line. The Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, which serves adults, children, and families in 12 counties in the state, launched the program in 2016 to stay connected with its hardest-to-reach clients.

Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon New Assistant Secretary For Mental Health & Substance Dr. Miriam E. Delphin-Rittmon sailed through a recent U.S. Senate confirmation hearing and is now the Assistant Secretary of Mental Health and Substance Abuse at the U.S. Health and Human Services Department. In her written testimony, she stated: “Emphasizing recovery and addressing equity and culture in behavioral health service delivery and system development are prominent themes in my work…”

Justice Department Finds that Alameda County, California, Violates the Americans with Disabilities Act and the U.S. Constitution The Justice Department concluded, based upon a thorough investigation, that there is reasonable cause to believe that Alameda County is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in its provision of mental health services, and that conditions and practices at the county’s Santa Rita Jail violate the U.S. Constitution and the ADA. The department’s investigation found that the county fails to provide services to qualified individuals with mental health disabilities in the most integrated setting appropriate to their needs. Instead, it unnecessarily institutionalizes them at John George Psychiatric Hospital and other facilities.

Likely Broad Impact for a U.S. Department of Justice Finding on Incarceration of People with Mental Illness A pivotal moment has come in the long and complex effort to reform the U.S. criminal justice system.  The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has directed officials in Alameda County, California, to fundamentally change the way it deals with people with mental illness. DOJ did so by issuing a formal “letter of findings “, taking the county to task for failing to meet the needs of people with mental illness and entangling them in the criminal justice system. Policy makers and lawyers are watching the situation closely, and the outcome is likely to have an impact far beyond the Bay Area.

U.S. Drug Overdose Deaths Spiked 30 Percent in 2020 Drug overdose deaths rose nearly 30 percent in 2020 to a record 93,000, according to preliminary statistics released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s the largest single-year increase recorded. The deaths rose in every state but two, South Dakota and New Hampshire, with pronounced increases in the South and West.

California Capitol Watch: Assisted Outpatient Treatment – Bill Would Loosen Criteria for Involuntary Mental Health Treatment According to Senator Eggman, the author of SB 507, the bill “will update the eligibility requirements for AOT programs to capture those individuals who have cycled through multiple short-term holds, as well as those who have recently left conservatorships, allowing counties to provide effective treatment to individuals in the least restrictive setting.”

A Pilot Program Expands to Reach More Vulnerable People Created through a partnership with local non-profits in and around Times Square, Community First meets the needs of vulnerable individuals experiencing trauma, joblessness, living with mental illness, and/or substance use disorders who have ended up living on the streets. Our Community Navigators do this by working on meeting people's immediate needs, learning about their lives, building trusting relationships with them, and then making connections to services people say they want over time. The initiative focuses on prevention and providing support before individuals may have contact with police or the justice system.

Kids in Colorado’s juvenile detention centers don’t always get needed medication, advocates say When Angelina Burke entered the Platte Valley Youth Services Center in Greeley last month, she had been steadily taking a litany of psychiatric medications. Those medications — including Suboxone to treat opioid addiction — helped the 16-year-old Longmont native sleep better, manage her cravings and stabilize her mood. But when Burke came to the juvenile detention center, the staff took her off most of her meds entirely, she said, causing the teen to go through serious withdrawal, her mental health plummeting.

New Mental Health Assessment Using AI Launches In Hamilton County Juvenile Court The tool uses artificial intelligence to analyze vocal biomarkers to measure whether a person is at-risk of suicide. Clinicians are alerted if someone is at-risk and can modify treatment and medication.

Opinion: Greedy Private Hospital Administrators, Staff Shortages Cause Virginia To Stop Accepting Patients In Crisis Are staff shortages at mental health hospitals in your state causing officials to stop admissions? It’s happening in Virginia and it’s shameful.

Opinion: A law hindering treatment for severe mental illness must be repealed Born of good but misguided intentions, the IMD exclusion was meant to incentivize outpatient treatment for individuals with severe mental illness and disincentivize residential treatment. This simplistic and naïve approach to mental health care has led to dire consequences. So many people with severe mental illness are being housed in jails and prisons that they’ve been dubbed “the new asylums.”

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