Interview with Marcia M. Meis Director, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts

Task Force and Task Force Member Activities

Interview with Marcia M. Meis Director, Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts In the seventh of eight interviews of the National Judicial Task Force Executive Committee members, Director of the Administrative Office of the Illinois Courts Marcia M. Meis, Co-chair of the Education, Partnerships & Implementation Work Group, discusses how the Task Force’s work will lead to real change, what she hopes the Work Group will accomplish, and what challenges Illinois is facing.

Court Leader's Advantage Podcast 1/18/2022 Episode: Mental Health & Courts: Crisis of Competency This month is the second of NACM’s five-episode discussion with members of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness. Some of the questions we will explore include:

  • What are some of the specific challenges surrounding competency to stand trial?
  • What is being done to overcome those challenges on both the national and the community level? and
  • What recommendations does the Task Force have for us?

Our panel includes:

  • The Honorable Nan Waller, Judge of the 4th Judicial District in Portland, Oregon and Task Force member, and
  • Richard Schwermer, with the National Center for State Courts and Retired State Court Administrator for the state of Utah.

Eleventh Judicial Circuit Criminal Mental Health Project The “Miami Model” is a familiar shorthand for the constellation of innovations implemented in this Mental Health Project. This new report describes each of these innovations and details the impact of the project, including cost savings, reductions in incarceration and recidivism, and most importantly, better outcomes for people with mental health disorders who come in contact with the justice system. Judge Leifman, from the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Miami Florida is a member of the National Judicial Task Force.

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Research and Resources

Community Investment Interventions as a Means for Decarceration: A Scoping Review Our review identified 53 studies that demonstrated the efficacy of early childhood educational interventions and nurse-family partnership programs, post-secondary education for incarcerated students, navigation programs linking incarcerated people to community resources, and peer support upon release to reduce criminal legal system exposure.

Telemedicine Services in Substance Use and Mental Health Treatment Facilities Data from the National Survey of Substance Abuse Treatment Services (N-SSATS) and the National Mental Health Services Survey (N-MHSS) shows an increase in the percentage of substance use and mental health treatment facilities providing telemedicine services between 2015 and 2020. The percentage of substance use treatment facilities with telemedicine services more than doubled in one year: from 27.5% in 2019 to 58.6% in 2020. For mental health facilities, this percentage increased from 38% in 2019 to 68.7%.

Mental Health Conservatorship (Guardianship) Among Homeless People With Serious Mental Illness Among people who were homeless, initiation of a conservatorship was associated with significantly longer length of inpatient stay (mean=154.8 days versus 25.6 days for the whole sample) but also with lower odds of being unhoused at the time of discharge. Conclusions: A mental health conservatorship can be a mechanism for helping homeless people with a grave disability from mental illness to transition from the streets to residential psychiatric treatment, but it requires substantial resources from facilities that initiate such conservatorships and does not guarantee resolution of long-term supportive housing needs.

A Systematic Review of Interventions Targeting Criminogenic Risk Factors Among Persons with Serious Mental Illness This systematic review synthesized research on interventions that target criminogenic risk factors and are delivered to justice-involved individuals with serious mental illness. This review is the first to evaluate interventions targeting criminogenic risks among justice-involved individuals with serious mental illness. Findings suggest that outcomes associated with these interventions are promising. Given the overrepresentation of persons with serious mental illness in the criminal justice system, these findings provide an important step toward identifying services that curb justice involvement in this population.

The Mental Health Coalition Resource Library The Mental Health Coalition’s Resource Library is made available by our alliance of the leading mental health organizations. We encourage you to browse this database to learn about mental health, help a loved one, learn coping skills and seek support.

A Real Opportunity to Break the Cycle of Homelessness New findings from a five-year program evaluation by the Urban Institute prove what supportive-housing advocates and people experiencing homelessness have always known: It does not have to be this way. The Denver Supportive Housing Social Impact Bond Initiative has shown remarkable success in breaking the cycle between homelessness and the criminal legal system and offers a road map for how cities can use their budgets creatively to bring positive change over the long term.

TAC Research Weekly: COVID-19 Mortality and Severe Mental Illness The evidence continues to mount showing that individuals with severe mental illness are more at risk for COVID-19 infection, severe illness and death compared to the general population. A recent study, published in JAMA Network Open by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center, confirms previous findings adding to the knowledge base about COVID-19 and mental illness. The study found that people with schizophrenia were more likely to die from COVID-19 even after controlling for chronic medical comorbidities and smoking, suggesting people with psychiatric disorders have a higher risk of mortality from COVID-19 that is independent of their medical comorbidities.

BJA Grant Applicant Education Series Webinars Announced The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) will hold the following two webinars as part of the BJA Grant Applicant Education Series:

  • Funding Opportunities for Your Community in 2022: An Overview of What's Ahead: January 19, 2022, 1 p.m. ET. This webinar will help prospective applicants find BJA funding opportunities that address their needs.
  • The Funding Process: First Steps to Applying, How to Prepare Now, and Other Considerations: January 26, 2022, 1 p.m. ET. This webinar will provide attendees with information about the registrations that are necessary prior to applying for funding, how to navigate and JustGrants, and resources that are available to applicants.

988 Crisis Jam Learning Community A national three-digit mental health and suicide prevention crisis hotline is probably the most significant public policy initiative impacting behavioral healthcare since Medicaid expansion. There are many questions that we all have, and the learning collaborative is a forum for us to find solutions together. The Crisis Jam is a weekly virtual event designed to find those solutions. View past events and sign up for future jams.

Critical Elements for Implementing the Officer Intervention Pathway of Pre-Arrest Diversion The Officer Intervention pathway is centered on connecting eligible individuals to treatment and services to address the underlying reason for their alleged offense while still holding them accountable. To accomplish this, officers identify eligible participants during routine activities—like a “call for service”—and offer the person an opportunity to engage in treatment and services. In some programs, if the person agrees to participate in the program, their charges are held in abeyance until the agreed upon treatment plan is completed. If the program plan is not completed, charges may be filed. During this webinar, representatives from officer intervention programs in Blue Earth County, Minnesota, and Orange County, North Carolina, will describe their programs and discuss critical elements needed to plan, implement, and sustain officer intervention programs.

Criminal Justice and Equity: Bridging the Gaps The Kennedy-Satcher Center for Mental Health Equity (KSCMHE) at Morehouse School of Medicine, is hosting a series of virtual roundtables to address the landscape of inequities that affect justice-involved individuals. Expert panelists—representing a diverse, inclusive, and unique set of voices in the field—will share perspectives on topics including policy implementation and data, behavioral health equity and incarceration, trauma-informed systems for justice-involved populations, re-entry programs and reducing recidivism, and housing access and environmental support systems.

Recommended Practices for Incorporating Medication for Opioid Use Disorders in Therapeutic Courts This free National Judicial College webinar will assist judges who preside over treatment courts as well as criminal courts by identifying what medically assisted treatment is available for opioid use disorders, the efficacy of such treatment, the recommended practice to incorporate this treatment component, and how to improve treatment outcomes by incorporating medically assisted treatment.

Addressing Opioid Use Disorder Treatment in Correctional Settings Jails and prisons were never meant to be treatment centers for people with substance use disorders. But because more than half of individuals in prisons or jails meet the criteria for the disorder, correctional settings have become an important treatment location. While many jails and prisons lack the resources and capacity to provide treatment, policymakers are uniquely positioned to help align systems and facilitate collaboration and innovation to reduce some of these barriers.

Before and After a Behavioral Health Crisis: Building a Continuum of Care Counties across the country are building multidisciplinary teams and using key data elements to prevent and better address mental health and substance use disorder crises outside of the criminal legal system. Building an effective care continuum targets the root causes of a behavioral health crisis by investing in comprehensive and accessible prevention, treatment, and real-time intervention. This NACo webinar recording and resources link provides key resources on the importance of a continuum of care and feature lessons learned from counties working to reduce barriers to behavioral health for its residents.

Sozosei Summit 2021 The Sozosei Summit is a global event that brings together experts, thought-leaders, people with lived experience, medical professionals, lawyers, judges, advocates, artists, and funders to collaborate, create, and explore pathways to decriminalize mental illness with a particular focus on 988, the new national mental health crisis telephone line, due to go live in July 2022. This resource links to 15 summit sessions.

National Center on Substance Abuse and Child Welfare (NCSACW) Webinar NCSACW invites you to a webinar to learn strategies to help the increasing number of adolescents at risk of suicide and mental health concerns. Adolescents involved in the child welfare system, particularly those who experience long-term foster care or age out of foster care, are particularly vulnerable.

Suicide and its Impact on the Criminal Justice System Compiling 16 essays addressing various aspects of the intersection of suicide and the criminal legal system, this book showcases how lawyers, judges, mental health and correctional professionals, and prisoners experience this all-too pervasive feature of crime and punishment.

CSG Justice Center's Justice Briefing Commissioner Williams named Chair of the CSG Justice Center Advisory Board; fair chance licensing reform across the country; job opportunities; and upcoming events.

NASMHPD Update The latest news and resources from the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors.

SAMHSA Headlines Includes information on resources for 988 implementation, using Medicaid for mobile crisis interventions, a telehealth for treatment webinar, and more.

SAMHSA’s GAINS Center Seeks Experienced Trainers to Participate in Trauma-Informed Responses Train-the-Trainer Event for Individuals Selected applicants will learn to facilitate the training via a virtual Train-the-Trainer (TTT) event and subsequently deliver the training program in their local communities. While not a requirement to apply to this opportunity, this year’s selection process will place special emphasis on applicants who provide training to drug courts and/or reentry programs.

Communities Must Have All Core Crisis Elements to Reach People Most in Need In many communities, behavioral health crisis care remains piecemeal or non-existent, resulting in law enforcement as the primary mental health responder. The national guidelines provide a framework that highlights the essential elements a crisis system must include to be effective and comprehensive: regional or statewide crisis call centers that coordinate in real-time, centrally deployed 24/7 mobile crisis, 23-hour crisis receiving and stabilization programs.

In the News

New Mexico Legislative Proposal re Medicaid Eligibility A proposed statute in New Mexico would provide that “Incarceration shall not be a basis to deny or terminate eligibility for Medicaid,” and that an incarcerated individual who was not already enrolled in Medicaid when they became incarcerated would be permitted to apply for Medicaid while incarcerated.

A mental health hold can help Coloradans in crisis. But for many who are seriously ill, that’s where the help stops A bill that will be introduced at the state legislature this year, and which was spearheaded by the advocacy group Mental Health Colorado, aims to give people greater protections as they undergo involuntary care, including through access to a state-funded attorney or the ability to appoint a trusted person as their representative. It would also require the state’s new Behavioral Health Administration to take a more central role in the civil commitment process rather than leaving individual providers — of which there simply aren’t enough — to figure it out for themselves.

Idaho Governor recognizes teacher who disarmed Rigby Middle School shooter, announces behavioral health initiatives In 2020, Idaho created Behavioral Health Council, bringing together all three branches of state government to address behavioral health issues in the state. Little is now proposing investing $54 million into the council’s recommendations to improve behavioral health care across Idaho. The $50 million investment would include creating new community behavioral health clinics, psychiatric residential treatment facilities and youth crisis centers, according to the governor’s fiscal year 2023 budget. The state’s suicide prevention line also would be converted to the national mental health crisis line.

To fix jail overcrowding, Indiana lawmakers look to send more Hoosiers back to prison In order to move forward with long-stated goals of addressing drug addiction and mental illness inside Indiana's county jails, state lawmakers are looking backward. House Bill 1004 would allow judges to resume sentencing people convicted of low-level felonies into state prisons instead of primarily packing them into local jails. Sheriffs told IndyStar as many as 80 percent of the people in their jails had drug or mental health issues, and many could be better served in other treatment settings, and that the Department of Corrections has drug addiction and mental health treatment available every day, while many counties — particularly in rural stretches of the state — do not.

California Governor Newsom unveils $286.4B budget proposal “California is poised to be — if this proposal is supported — the first state in the country to achieve universal access to health coverage,” Newsom said during his budget news conference. The spending plan also envisions significant new funding in response to the state’s homelessness crisis, calling for an additional $2 billion over a two-year period to get people out of encampments and into an immediate shelter and to provide mental health services.

Feds open investigation in SC involving group homes for adults with mental illness The U.S. Department of Justice has opened a new investigation in South Carolina involving adults with mental illness who have been subjected to unnecessary institutionalization inside adult care homes. The investigation will seek to determine if “South Carolina needlessly segregates individuals with mental illness in adult care homes... by failing to provide integrated community-based mental health services,” the agency said Jan. 12.

Shortage of Mental Health/Substance Abuse Professionals Is A Major Challenge, National Council President Writes Without immediate investment in people and programs, organizations will continue to have difficulty meeting the historic demand for mental health and substance use treatment, let alone the influx we’re now seeing in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Unintended consequence of SQ 780 may impact access to drug treatment courts Statewide, drug treatment courts boast several impressive statistics. According to the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse — the entity overseeing the treatment court program — offenders released from prison are re-arrested at a rate about three times that of offenders who graduate from treatment court. One unintentional consequence of the law change was taking people out of consideration for drug treatment court. Because simple drug possession is now classified as a misdemeanor instead of a felony, and treatment court is for drug felonies, fewer people may get the opportunity for treatment.

Mental Illness and the Justice System To what extent should those who suffer from extreme mental illness be held accountable for their actions, and what consequences should they face? The U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics found that 64 percent of inmates in state and federal prisons met the criteria for mental illness at the time of their booking or during the 12 months leading up to their arrest. However, most of these incarcerated individuals fail to receive proper treatment for their disorders. When it comes to criminal acts, how much should mental health factor into the way that first responders initially respond? Can We Rehabilitate as Well as Punish?

Ellenberg and Manley: Mental health and substance abuse as a public health crisis The current crisis of people with untreated severe mental illness, and its intersections with the housing crisis, substance use and criminalization of mental health with jails as the provider of last resort, have been decades in the making and will require large-scale, innovative and coordinated responses across levels of government, the private sector, community organizations and residents to resolve.


Many courts are focusing now more than ever on the wellbeing of judges and court employees. This new section of Behavioral Health Alerts will highlight timely news and resources that address this important issue.

South Dakota Chief Justice’s speech pushing care for staff Chief Justice Jensen explained that there is a growing awareness of the mental health risks judges face as they make decisions, such as child custody and prison sentences, that have long-term impacts on people’s lives. With the added pressure of the pandemic, there is a growing risk for burnout, depression and substance abuse among judges, Jensen said. The state’s courts have created a program that allows judges to reach out for help and a referral for counseling. “I firmly believe that maintaining excellence in our courts must start by focusing on the greatest resource that we have in the court system, and that is our people,” he told the Legislature.

Working Remotely During COVID-19 Many are teleworking full-time for the first time, isolated from co-workers, friends and family. Our daily living routines are disrupted causing added anxiety, stress and strain—physically, mentally, and financially. It is completely natural for this disruption and uncertainty to lead to anxiety and stress. Now more than ever, we all must take care of our mental health and well-being. As we protect ourselves against potential exposure to the coronavirus, keep in mind that social distancing does not mean social isolation. This resource provides practical tips on taking care of our mental health and well-being.

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