Diversion Initiative Overview and Applicant Information

Implementation of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts' Response to Mental Illness Report and Recommendations

Diversion Initiative Overview and Applicant Information The National Center for State Courts (NCSC), with funding from the Sozosei Foundation, invites pilot courts to test the usefulness of the updated Judges' Guide to Mental Health Diversion (Guide) and to identify needed modifications. Selected courts will be provided on-site and virtual technical assistance by NCSC to test the Guide and plan and implement jail diversion systems for individuals with behavioral health needs. The online application is now open, but closes December 9th.

Oregon Circuit Judge Nan G. Waller receives William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence In her remarks, (Task Force member) Judge Waller spoke of her love for all of her judicial assignments and the impact of her administrative work. Yet she’s particularly inspired to lead change after witnessing the difficulties people experience when they face the intersection of the courts and mental illness. “It is in my current role in which I focus on those in the criminal justice system with serious mental health needs that I have found my work on the bench the most compelling, the application of the principles of procedural justice the most imperative, and my work off the bench the most urgent," she said.

Connecticut Sentencing Commission Symposium: Criminal Legal System at a Crossroads Task Force member Judge James Bianco was the keynote speaker at this recent Connecticut symposium. His address regarding mental health and the justice system was poignant, insightful, and very well received. His comments begin at around the 11 minute mark of this video.

Two Indiana Counties Piloting Framework Focused on Child Welfare LaPorte and Tippecanoe counties are piloting a National Center for State Courts project called “Upstream,” a framework which aims to prevent child maltreatment and out-of-home placement, reduce court involvement, and support safe and healthy families.

Task Force Super-Session at NACM ICYMI, Task Force member and Indiana Supreme Court Justice Christopher Goff joined an expert panel including NCSC Vice-President for Court Consulting Services, David Slayton, NCSC Principal Court Management Consultant Patti Tobias, Task Force member and Peer Support Specialist Walter Thompson from Miami-Dade County, and Scott Block, Statewide Behavioral Health Administrator for the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts to discuss the work of the Task Force and the role of courts and judges in addressing the intersection of mental illness and the courts in this one-hour video from the recent NACM national conference.

Research and Resources

NACM Board Issues 2022 Court Guide on Behavioral Health The guide is a good place for court managers to get up to speed on the latest behavioral health issues facing the courts. The guide uses the sequential intercept framework to take the reader through the effect of these issues on the courts and the various system partners that the court relies on. Collaborative court and community responses are highlighted, as are various training types and techniques available to court managers.

From Crisis to Care: Building from 988 and Beyond for Better Mental Health Outcomes A series of 10 technical assistance collaborative papers providing important resources for state leaders, policy makers, providers, peers and others to learn from examples around the country and hear from thought leaders about innovative services and the need for further 988 implementation. Produced by SAMHSA in conjunction with the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

National Guidelines for Child and Youth Behavioral Health Crisis Care "All too often, children and youth experiencing a behavioral health crisis face hospitalization or justice system involvement, instead of receiving the home-based care and community-based services that are in many circumstances best for de-escalating and stabilizing a crisis. -"Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, Ph.D., Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use. This new resource offers best practices, implementation strategies, and practical guidance for the design and development of services that meet the needs of children, youth, and their families experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

Expanding First Response Assessment Tool The Expanding First Response Assessment Tool is a complementary component of the Expanding First Response toolkit that can be used to help communities determine where they are in planning, implementing, and sustaining community responder programs. Upon completing the tool, users will receive a summary of their results and either resources to aid their progress or amplify their success story.

From Treatment Courts to the Supreme Court: Q&A with Three State Supreme Court Justices Treatment courts, which can include mental health and other specialty courts, have been around for decades. Across the country, they are used to divert people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders from jail or prison into treatment. Members of the Idaho Supreme Court have long been committed to advancing the efforts of treatment courts and have found them not only personally gratifying but also beneficial to their professional careers. The CSG Justice Center recently interviewed three of the five members serving on the court.

A Holistic Trauma-Informed Approach for Every Treatment Court Role: Maximizing Team Members’ Effectiveness in Interpersonal Interactions This SAMHSA webinar will provide information about the actions that each treatment court team member can take to provide a trauma-informed treatment court experience. The presentation will cover a range of questions: What is the separate role of each member of the team? When many members of the team interact with participants in the field, how can those interactions be made trauma-informed? What do you do when talking with an agitated participant, or one who has difficulty listening to you?

Register Now for Treatment Court Coordinators Training NADCP's National Drug Court Institute (NDCI) will offer in-person practitioner training in 2023. These four-day trainings will be held in Oklahoma City and will offer in-depth education on your role in treatment courts facilitated by national experts. The first practitioner training will be held March 27-30, 2023 and is designed for anyone currently serving as a coordinator for an existing treatment court or with a court planning to implement a treatment court.

Sharing Data Across Justice and Behavioral Health Systems: 2022 NACo Annual Conference Workshop Summary The Familiar Faces Initiative (FFI) seeks better outcomes and lower incarceration rates for individuals who frequently cycle through jails, homeless shelters, emergency departments and other local crisis services by empowering communities to share data and integrate care options between health and justice systems. Data sharing and care coordination build on the principle that if service providers can better understand the needs of their clients, they can be more targeted and more effective in their support for these individuals.

Incorporating Services and Support into Pretrial Supervision: Is There a Best Model? Behavioral health and social service needs are common in most arrest populations. For most individuals, these needs will not interfere with making court appearances and remaining arrest-free before trial. However, need can escalate into a heightened risk of pretrial misconduct for some people. This publication discusses the complexity of managing substance use disorder—a prevalent need in most arrest populations—and suggests a “pretrial intervention services” model that outlines when pretrial agencies should consider services, when services should be integrated into supervision support, and what treatment service strategies are best at the pretrial stage.

How Counties Are Responding to Behavioral Health Needs and Improving Public Safety This Stepping Up resource highlights the accomplishments of the initiative to date, including county successes, and discusses the focus areas for the future of Stepping Up.

Community Engagement: An Essential Component of an Effective and Equitable Substance Use Prevention System Community engagement is often cited as a tool to improve the health of the community and its members. This guide will review evidence related to leveraging community engagement to support the implementation and scale-up of evidence-based programs and policies.

Why states should change Medicaid rules to cover people leaving prison People leaving prison have sky-high mortality rates. Most are likely Medicaid-eligible. Making sure they are covered upon release from prison would save lives and reduce recidivism. During just the first two weeks after release from prison, people leaving custody face a risk of death more than 12 times higher than that of the general U.S. population, with disproportionately high rates of deaths from drug overdose and illness. Many of these deaths following release are preventable with appropriate medical, mental health, and substance use interventions.

TAC Research Weekly: November Research Roundup One of the harmful myths about people with serious mental illness is that they are prone to committing acts of violence. Many researchers actually find that people with serious mental illness are more likely to be victims of violent crime than perpetrators of it. Data from SMI Adviser found that someone who has serious mental illness is, on average, 11.8 times more likely to be the victim of a violent crime compared to the general population

November Rural Justice Collaborative Digest Includes links to several resources addressing the process of culturally adapting evidence-based practices for under-resourced populations, expanding mental health crisis teams in rural areas, and gaps in mental health care in rural areas due to stringent civil commitment standards.

PRA ENews Includes an invitation for communities to apply for Crisis Intercept Mapping workshops; a new resource constellation Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Veterans Across the Intercepts; a link to a Judicature article on trauma informed judicial practices; and a notice for a webinar, Integrating Behavioral Health Peer Support Specialists into Crisis Response: Academic Training Initiative to Inform Police Responses.

The Role of 988 in Supporting People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) During this CSG webinar, participants will hear from The Arc of the United States on how to include and recognize people with IDD in need of crisis support when developing 988-related policies and the intersectionality of IDD and racial and ethnic disparities in connections to care.

A Trauma-Informed Court Starts with Procedural Fairness To achieve procedural fairness the effect of past trauma cannot be ignored by judges. Research shows up to 90% of adolescents and 75% of adults involved in the criminal justice system report at least one traumatic event during childhood. Judges who are trauma-informed know that a significant number of the people who appear before them are suffering from some form of trauma due to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). At the same time many of these same jurists, are uncertain about how to develop a constant trauma-informed response.

Which Social Determinants of Health Interventions Yield Best ROI? The Commonwealth Fund has found that housing and nutrition social determinants of health interventions have the strongest evidence for yielding good ROI.

Juvenile Involved Community of Practice Series: Shifting from Locking Youth Up to Lifting Youth Up Justice-involved youth can be powerful agents of change. Join us for a five-part community of practice focused on promoting the leadership of system-impacted young people. This strengths-based series will address racial trauma and racial disparities in juvenile justice systems across the nation.

In the News

Can Florida’s collaborative approach to homelessness work in Utah? Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall thinks it can. This month, officials from Utah traveled to Miami, Florida, to learn how leaders in that city work together to prevent unsheltered residents and those struggling with mental illness from cycling through the system. Mendenhall said Miami’s culture of collaboration has led to better outcomes for residents at a better cost for taxpayers.

CSG Justice Center State of Justice Links to news about how California state prisons transfer people with serious mental illness far more frequently than other prisoners; Judges in Pa. can now dismiss charges against people ‘incompetent’ to stand trial, but flaws remain; and the Missouri Supreme Court is now pushing for statewide implementation of the Sequential Intercept Model.

Kansas legislators say it’s time to fix mental health bed shortages After months of meetings and complaints from civilians and law enforcement officials, lawmakers say they have clear targets in addressing the state’s severe mental health care shortages. With a shortage of room in psychiatric facilities across the state, community hospitals and jails have had to shoulder housing and care costs for mentally unstable patients without reimbursement. People deemed a danger to themselves or others are processed by the district attorney’s office and sent to the county jail until a hospital bed is ready.

Lawsuit: 2 Wyoming mental patients dead, procedures ignored Protection & Advocacy System Inc. filed the lawsuit against the Wyoming Department of Health and state hospital directors last week in U.S. District Court in Cheyenne. It seeks to force the department to release video recordings from inside the hospital following recent patient suicides, a rape by a staffer, and an incapacitated woman’s abandonment in a dayroom without food, water or bathroom use for over 24 hours.

10 states with the fewest psychiatrists per capita The U.S. may face a shortage of 54,100 to 139,000 physicians by 2033, and access to care in every specialty, including mental health services, is a national issue. Here are the 10 states with the fewest practicing psychiatrists in relation to its population, using industry data collected in August by the Kaiser Family Foundation and population data from World Population Review.

Mayor says NYC will treat mentally ill, even if they refuse New York City’s mayor on Tuesday said he was directing police and city medics to be more aggressive about getting severely mentally ill people off the streets and subways and into treatment, even if it means involuntarily hospitalizing some people who refuse care. “These New Yorkers and hundreds of others like them are in urgent need of treatment, yet often refuse it when offered,” Mayor Eric Adams said at a news conference, noting the pervasive problem of mental illness has long been out in the open.

In-jail mental health treatment producing a ‘night and day’ difference for some in Forsyth County Forsyth’s behavioral health unit serves individuals with a severe mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression. Every person going to the behavioral health unit must agree to consistently take psychiatric medications as prescribed. People are admitted on a rolling basis into the unit as beds are available. Simpler designed the eight-week program based on a curriculum from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The program curriculum includes courses on coping, dealing with stress, practicing mindfulness and preparing for life transitions. Simpler said the unit uses a recovery model in which residents of the unit are taught to understand, manage and talk to others about their mental illness.


Follow this recipe to build a strong court workforce Supporting and enabling employee engagement is now an essential mandate for every court system. Not only has the pandemic required a re-examination of roles in court workforces, it also demands a continued re-examination of how courts attract and retain their workforce. Join us to learn innovative ways to address employee and judicial recruitment, onboarding and professional development, and retention, and the recipe of elements to a healthy court workforce.

CEO Required Reading: U.S. Surgeon General Framework On Workplace Mental Health Last month, the leading public health authority in the United States released a new report that outlines mental health standards for the workplace and comes packed with actionable recommendations. Executives that want to support the wellbeing of employees now have an assignment: putting the framework for workplace mental health into action.

How to Respond When an Employee Shares a Mental Health Challenge The good news is that it’s possible to handle mental health conversations without overstepping your expertise. And while it’s natural to worry you’ll start asking the wrong questions or that your employee might ask questions you can’t answer, you can take steps now to create a culture where vulnerable conversations are OK, where boundaries stay in place, and where people can get the help they need.

Subscribe to automatically receive Behavioral Health Alerts
and additional NCSC newsletters.

Comments or feedback about Behavioral Health Alerts?
Contact Rick Schwermer at rschwermer@ncsc.org.

Related news or resources from your state or jurisdiction?
Contact Patti Tobias at ptobias@ncsc.org.

View previous issues of Behavioral Health Alerts and 
additional resources on the NCSC Behavioral Health website.


COSCA logo

NCSC logo