Judicial Task Force Releases Final Report on State Courts' Response to Mental Illness

Task Force and Task Force Member Activities

Judicial Task Force Releases Final Report on State Courts' Response to Mental Illness Continued collaboration between the courts, government agencies, mental health providers and others is critical to affect the systemic change needed to improve how courts respond to individuals with serious mental illness. That was the message echoed during Tuesday’s release of the final report from the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness. The virtual event drew about 900 participants, including court officials, behavioral health professionals, and members of the news media. The final task force report and recommendations is now available for download.

More Task Force Resources Released As the Task Force wraps up, the following final products and resources are still being released:

Oregon Judge to Receive William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence Multnomah County Circuit Judge Nan G. Waller has been named the recipient of the 27th Annual William H. Rehnquist Award for Judicial Excellence presented by the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). Judge Waller will receive the Rehnquist award from Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr., during an event at the Supreme Court of the United States in November. Chief Justice Martha L. Walters wrote “Judge Waller makes a difference - one vulnerable child, teen, or adult at a time – providing a bridge, and often a lifeline, that brings the potentially impersonal justice system down to a human level with compassion, listening, legal expertise, and a commitment to equity and justice.” Oregon Governor Kate Brown echoed the chief justice’s sentiment in her support of Judge Waller, who also recently served as a member of the National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness.

Research and Resources

Policing Doesn’t End Homelessness. Supportive Housing Does. This Urban Institute document finds that instead of addressing the issue’s root causes—a lack of housing and supportive services—many cities have leaned into punitive responses that criminalize homelessness, such as arresting people for sitting or sleeping in certain public places. But this approach is costly and ineffective. Police don’t solve homelessness, they only move it around—to other neighborhoods, jails, and emergency rooms—rather than connecting people with the housing and services they need.

The Consequences of Medicaid Expansion Under the Affordable Care Act for Police Arrests Existing research has yet to fully explore the capacity for health insurance policy to influence rates of arrest in the population. To fill this gap, we examine the potential effect of Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on arrests in 3,035 U.S. counties. Results: Police arrests significantly declined following the expansion of Medicaid under the ACA. Medicaid expansion produced a 20–32% negative difference in overall arrests rates in the first three years. We observe the largest negative differences for drug arrests: we find a 25–41% negative difference in drug arrests in the three years following Medicaid expansion, compared to non-expansion counties. We observe a 19–29% negative difference in arrests for violence in the three years after Medicaid expansion, and a decrease in low-level arrests between 24–28% in expansion counties compared to non-expansion counties.

National Council for Mental Wellbeing Criminal Justice Resource Hub Here you will find a central hub for all of the National Council’s efforts to improve outcomes for criminal justice system–involved individuals with mental health and substance use challenges. Opportunities exist across the continuum of criminal legal system involvement to improve the health of people with mental health and substance use challenges. Using the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) as an overall framework is one way to identify these opportunities.

Veterans Reentry Programming: Supporting Transition to Civilian Life Across the Sequential Intercept Model This latest NIC publication highlights what’s working in reentry programming for veterans throughout the country. In addition to providing a blueprint for developing veterans reentry programs in your own jurisdiction, the document features interviews with experts who work with veterans every day. Professionals in law enforcement, jails, prisons, and community corrections share their personal stories about how they have been successful at helping veterans return to a crime-free lifestyle.

Confronting the Challenge of Mental Health Stigma: A New Report and a New National Initiative In a report issued Oct. 9, The Lancet Commission on Ending Stigma and Discrimination in Mental Health issues a call to action to “act now to stop stigma and to start inclusion.” The report summarizes extensive research around the world, highlights the results of an international survey, and provides recommendations for actions by a range of stakeholders. The report also points to the role of the media in both perpetuating and potentially decreasing stigma. The media contributes to further stigmatization, for example, by reinforcing stereotypes such as the dangerousness of people with mental illness. The media can also play a positive role, for example, when following accepted guidance on how to report on suicides.

TAC Research Weekly This month’s summary includes data showing a decrease in state hospital utilization in the United States, and research about text messages to increase medication adherence, and psychiatric treatment in prison for people with psychotic illness.

The State Of Mental Health In America Mental Health America’s annual prevalence and access data review.

New National Poll Cites Wide Support for Mental Health Programs in Jails and Prisons Only one in five (20%) Americans believe that those in jails and prisons are getting the mental health care they need, according to a new American Psychiatric Association (APA) poll. Seventy-five percent, however, say mental health support should be provided for incarcerated people in the United States.

Discrimination and Disparity: Violating Olmstead v. L.C. Discriminates Against the Psychiatrically Vulnerable and Fosters Racial/Ethnic and Socioeconomic Mental Health Disparities Dubbed “the Brown v. Board of Education for Disability Rights,” the landmark United States Supreme Court case of Olmstead v. L.C. ex rel Zimring held that institutionalizing individuals with psychiatric vulnerabilities who are capable and desirous of community-based treatment is a form of unlawful discrimination that violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”).  Violating the ADA and Olmstead does more than discriminate against people with psychiatric vulnerabilities; it fosters racial/ethnic and socioeconomic mental health disparities.

The Law Meets Psychological Expertise: Eight Best Practices to Improve Forensic Psychological Assessment We distill decades of scholarship from and about fundamental basic science and forensic science, clinical and forensic psychology, and the law of expert evidence into eight best practices for the validity of a forensic psychological assessment. We argue these best practices should ap- ply when a psychological assessment relies on the norms, values, and esteem of science to inform legal processes.

A Roadmap for States to Improve Opioid Use Disorder Care | The Pew Charitable Trusts In fall 2021, Pew brought together stakeholders representing state and federal governments, people with lived experience and other advocates, treatment providers, and experts in health measurement and analytics to discuss which quality measures could help states improve OUD treatment. The resulting eight measures, if collected, would help states understand their treatment systems’ capacity to effectively diagnose, treat, and support patients with OUD.

Prosecutorial Diversion Programming Collaboration: Early Intervention through Reentry This interactive webinar will focus on developing key strategies for diversion programs that target people with mental health conditions and/or substance use disorders who encounter the criminal justice system. Attendees will learn directly from a Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) Training and Technical Assistance (TTA) grantee who partners with prosecutors in a crisis stabilization unit program. These practitioners will also address the planning and implementation processes, from collaboration to data collection and sharing to funding and sustainability.

Dismantling Racism in the Peer Workforce and Creating Safe Spaces for BIPOC Peers For decades, peer support has been part of the mental health system. That system—like others across the nation—was built on racism, and racism continues to impact peer support. Come learn how to begin addressing structural racism within the peer support workforce. Join two experts who will share their personal stories of navigating the peer movement through a BIPOC lens and examine how to create different avenues for peers who identify as BIPOC.

Where's the Data? An Overview of Behavioral Health Services Information Services (BHSIS) Wondering what behavioral health data is available to support work in your community? You're invited to join this informational virtual workshop led by Herman Alvarado, a Supervisory Social Science Analyst at SAMHSA's Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, who will provide an overview of how to access SAMHSA's available data on the Behavioral Health Services Information System (BHSIS) and Online Treatment Locator.

Veterans Treatment Courts: Never Stop Moving – 10 Years, 10 Tips In July 2022, Shelby County, Tennessee celebrated the 10th anniversary of its veterans treatment court (VTC). In this free webinar, panelists will discuss the trauma, mental health disorders, and substance use disorders veterans can return home with, leading to issues of unemployment, homelessness, and high rates of suicide. Panelists will describe how the Shelby County VTC got started and the challenges and successes of a decade in operation.

New Online Tool Provides Jail Insights in 1,000+ Counties This real-time dashboard offers both high-level and detailed views of jail populations that can help inform policy decisions. Jail snapshots derived from publicly available data provide key data points and trends in jail populations, charges, length of stay, admissions and releases, and demographics of those in jail. On November 10 at 12:00pm EDT, The Pew Charitable Trusts will join NYU’s Public Safety Lab for a virtual guided tour of the dashboard where attendees will learn just how valuable a resource it can be for policymakers and practitioners nationwide. You can REGISTER HERE to reserve a spot in the demonstration.

JPLI Newsletter Linked resources include Advancing Fairness and Transparency: National Guidelines for Post-Conviction Risk and Needs Assessment, and Explainer: Creating Housing Opportunities for People with Complex Health Needs Leaving Incarceration.

CSG Justice Briefing Three counties receive in-depth assistance to improve crisis and diversion strategies; Iowa Oversight Committee on Justice Reinvestment reviews final results of assessment; and a new tool for Stepping Up counties to assess their progress.

CSG Justice Briefing Spotlight on Baltimore's 911 diversion pilot program; Justice Counts sector-specific work sessions; county reflections on two years of efforts to serve high-needs populations; and more.

Cooperative Agreements for Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic Planning Grants The purpose of CCBHC Planning Grants is to support states to develop and implement certification systems for CCBHCs, establish Prospective Payment Systems (PPS) for Medicaid reimbursable services, and prepare an application to participate in a four-year CCBHC Demonstration program. With the planning grants, SAMHSA aims to further expand opportunities for states to improve access to and delivery of coordinated, comprehensive behavioral health care through Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics. SAMHSA plans to issue 15 awards of up to $1,000,000 per year for 1 year.

Stepping Up Minute Counties receive assistance to improve crisis and diversion strategies; new podcast highlights youth mental health; How County Elected Officials Can Support Crisis Triage Centers: A Place for Community Members to Go during a Behavioral Health Emergency, and more.

In the News

Can Peers Power the Mental Health Workforce of the Future? The backbone of many community responder programs is a mental health clinician, often a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW). But there is growing concern among industry experts that relying on master-level professionals to power community response is unsustainable at a time when the demand for these professionals is exploding – and the shortage widening. Peer support providers have the potential to play an important role in the mental health field, not only because they can help fill the gap in the workforce, but also because they have something unique to offer. Their lived experience working to recover from mental health or substance use challenges gives them insights they can offer to others in similar situations.

After Months of Uncertainty and Rising Jail Numbers, LA’s Office of Diversion and Reentry Gets Funding For 750 More Beds Since its inception in 2015, ODR has diverted more than 8,500 people from the county’s jail system, including people with severe mental health needs, pregnant people, and those whose main problem is the struggle with chronic homelessness. For the past year and a half, the Los Angeles County Office of Diversion and Reentry’s housing programs have been operating at maximum capacity, meaning that ODR has been forced to turn away people who could otherwise be diversion candidates. However, ODR’s programs will expand by 750 beds in the upcoming 2022-23 fiscal year, thanks to state funding along with a pot of money courtesy of the county’s newly finalized supplemental budget.

Nearly 1,000 local, state and justice system leaders gather for first Mental Health Summit Nearly 1,000 people met in Indianapolis Friday for what Chief Justice Loretta Rush called a sign of hope for the state – the first Indiana Mental Health Summit. The event, organized by the Indiana Supreme Court, brought together all three branches of government, leaders from every sector of the justice system and representatives from all 92 counties. Kicking off the summit, Rush said too often, the criminal justice system is the first path of mental health care – which it’s not designed to be. And she said fixing that requires an all-hands-on-deck approach from the state.

HHS Secretary: 988 Transition Moves Us Closer to Better Serving the Crisis Care Needs of People Across America The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released new data that shows that over the first month of the transition to the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (988 Lifeline) there has been a 45% increase in overall volume and a substantial improvement in answer rates and wait times compared to August 2021.

She skipped a $2.50 TriMet fare. She spent 183 days in custody. TB, who is Black, never defended herself in court. She did not attend her initial trial or her 2021 appeal. But Oregon Court of Appeals Judge Bronson James decried what happened to her. “From her arrest, to her trip to the state hospital, her six months in jail, and her trial in absentia,” he wrote in May 2021, “The law was ever present; justice, in my view, not so much.”

Pennsylvania lawmakers weigh in on need for reforms after investigation into county jails and mental health The investigation found that corrections officers routinely use pepper spray, stun guns and other painful devices on people who may not be able to comply with orders due to a mental illness. Nearly one in three uses of force by prison guards at 25 jails during the fall of 2021 involved someone having a mental health crisis or who had a known mental health condition.

Burton, Mack: Court can help mental health The Wayne County Probate Court launched a pilot project in March 2022 under its behavioral health unit and has since initiated widespread use of outpatient treatment in Wayne County, instead of a simple discharge of individuals from hospital ERs. This is done by holding review hearings at the first sign of noncompliance, employing other services (assertive care treatment or med drop program) through the clinically responsible service providers, handling complex case management through the network, and finding other resources in the community, such as stable housing.

Montgomery County Jail earns first-for-Ohio mental health accreditation award The Montgomery County Jail has become the first in the state to receive a new accreditation award, focusing on mental health and inmate care. “This specialized accreditation not only means better care for inmates at the Montgomery County Jail but also a likely reduction in in-custody tragedies,” Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said.

NH faces overlap of crime, mental illness: Jail super says 'they don't belong in concrete' “It’s almost like a mental health ward in our processing area,” Henry said. “Our heart bleeds for these people. They shouldn’t be here in concrete and steel.” Yet they are. Meanwhile, jails aren’t the only place that the separation between mental illness and crime is blurring.

‘The suffering here is egregious’: Massive backlog of mentally ill defendants waiting in jail for treatment Mentally ill defendants in the state of Washington are sitting in jail for record wait times for psychiatric help – a violation of state law and court orders. “Our jails are not suitable places for the mentally ill to be warehoused while they wait for services. Jails are not hospitals, they are not designed as therapeutic environments, and they are not equipped to manage mental illness,” wrote Chief United States District Judge Marsha Pechman in the 2015 Trueblood Order.

Inmate spends more than two years in isolation amid struggles to determine competency A man who may be suffering from mental illness has spent more than two years in solitary confinement at the Cumberland County Jail and could soon be found competent to stand trial despite an inability to assist in his own defense, his attorney said. Although the case has been placed on the court's mental health docket — a system designed to prevent mentally ill people from languishing in jail without treatment — that's exactly what has happened, said his attorney.


Creating a mental health strategy with DEIB at the core Employees who experience feelings of inclusion in the workplace are associated with a positive workplace culture and increased employee engagement. Developing a meaningful mental health strategy with diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEIB) in mind affects the culture, employees’ feelings of confidence and inclusion, and opportunities available to employees with diverse backgrounds. This panel-style webinar will discuss ways to approach your organization’s mental health strategy with DEIB at its core.

U.S. surgeon general launches national workplace mental health guide in Philadelphia The 30-page guide is intended to help employers and employees build a work environment around five main areas: protection from harm, connection and community, work-life harmony, mattering at work, and opportunity for growth. “When workplaces support mental health and well-being, then workers do better, they contribute more to the workplace in terms of productivity, creativity, retention,” Murthy said. “But they also end up being able to show up more for their families and for their communities.”

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