Examining Mental Health & the Courts: A Roundtable Discussion with National Experts

Task Force and Task Force Member Activities

Examining Mental Health & the Courts: A Roundtable Discussion with National Experts After a multi-year investigation, the Task Force will release its findings and recommendations, to assist state courts to respond to the needs of court-involved individuals with serious mental illness. Speakers will highlight the potential impacts of the recommendations and the effective partnerships created between the nation’s state courts and the key federal agencies involved with the needs of individuals living with serious mental illness. The recommendations were recently endorsed by the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators. Use the above link to register for the event.

New Mexico Summit To Focus On Improving How Communities & Courts Respond To People With Mental Illness Court leaders and county-based teams from across New Mexico will convene next week to develop priorities for better assisting people with behavioral health needs who become involved with the justice system. “The behavioral health summit will allow stakeholders in our communities and courts to learn about strategies on the national and local level that can be collaboratively implemented to improve outcomes for individuals with mental health issues,” Chief Justice C. Shannon Bacon said. “Proper intervention can help individuals who otherwise may repeatedly end up in court and in jail because they are experiencing a behavioral health crisis.” Planning of the New Mexico summit began after court leaders attended a regional meeting of the Conference of Chief Justices and the Conference of State Court Administrators in 2019 on the topic of improving responses to those with mental illness.

Research and Resources

Get Ready for Veterans Day With  Justice For Vets' 2022 Toolkit NADCP’s 2022 Veterans Day Toolkit is full of guidance for safely recognizing and celebrating this day, including resources to help you plan and execute events, educate the media, and engage your community. It also includes crucial trips for ensuring everyone involved in your treatment court has the information, resources, and support they need. This free toolkit is now available to download.

TAC Research Weekly: The Life Circumstances of U.S Veterans with Schizophrenia The prevalence of mental illness, including schizophrenia, is particularly high among U.S veterans compared to the rest of the U.S population. The findings of this study reveal that veterans with schizophrenia exhibit greater frequency of mental health comorbidities and have higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, and premature death compared to veterans without schizophrenia. Additionally, this study confirms the belief that younger veterans with schizophrenia are at an increased risk for negative mental health and life circumstances, emphasizing the need for early interventions that are aimed at preventing relapse, reducing hospitalization, and managing comorbidities.

Medication-Assisted Treatment (“MAT”) For Opioid Use Disorder A NACo Opioid Solutions Strategy Brief Treating OUD with opioid medications (methadone and buprenorphine, specifically) has long been considered the gold-standard of care.5-6 However, no single medication works well for all. Equal access to all three supports finding the treatment that works best and patient preference remains one of the most important factors. All things being equal, the best medication choice may be the one a person is interested in trying or the one they will continue to take.

AAAS Judicial Seminar on Emerging Issues in Neuroscience On November 14-15, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), in partnership with the National Judicial College (NJC) and with funding from the Dana Foundation, will host a two-day, in-person seminar for administrative, federal and state judges, and their staff on emerging issues in neuroscience. Experts on neuroscience will provide up-to-date information and insights useful to judges and clerks. AAAS is able, thanks to a grant from a foundation, to cover key costs associated with bringing this educational opportunity to judges, so we’re pleased to say that we have the funds to cover travel and accommodations for all participants.

SAMHSA’s GAINS Center Invites Communities to Apply for Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Workshops SAMHSA’s GAINS Center is currently soliciting applications from communities interested in in-person Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) Mapping Workshops. SIM Mapping Workshops are designed to bring together a local, cross-system, multidisciplinary group of key stakeholders from a particular jurisdiction (typically a county) to facilitate collaboration and to identify and discuss ways in which barriers between the criminal justice and behavioral systems can be reduced through the development of integrated local strategic action plans.

Closing the Gap: Critical Partnerships between Jails and Community-Based Providers to Ensure Continuity of Care This SAMHSA webinar will feature two programs across rural and urban areas that have created a strong partnership between their local jail and community-based treatment providers to foster a seamless transition for individuals with SUD returning to the community. Presenters will discuss how they have developed effective partnerships, challenges they have faced through implementing their program, and strategies that they have used to overcome these barriers.

Evidence-Based Interventions to Address the Opioid Epidemic Addiction Policy Forum today released a new report, Evidence-Based Interventions to Address the Opioid Epidemic, to support jurisdictions across the country in advancing the adoption of evidence-based solutions to respond to the opioid epidemic. The report features 24 evidence-based strategies and interventions across children and family services, patient services, systems improvements, and policy changes. The report provides actionable resources and other information to help guide policymakers, practitioners, and stakeholders to improve practices and policies, find solutions, and bridge the gap between research and practice. The project also includes a self-assessment tool.

CSG Justice Briefing The CSG Justice Center welcomes five new leaders to advisory board; first-of-their-kind national guidelines fill critical gap in post-conviction risk and needs assessment; and upcoming events.

CSG Justice Briefing How three counties are serving high-needs populations; four new learning communities open for applications; and upcoming events.

Rural Justice Collaborative Digest - October 2022 Includes behavioral health related resources for rural communities, with topics including youth mental health, transportation for people in recovery, and how researchers are getting farmers to talk about mental health.

Behavioral Health, the Bench, and Beyond A newsletter highlighting resources and Illinois courts’ efforts to address behavioral health issues as they intersect with the courts.

In the News

Judicial Branch Introduces S.C. Courts Mental Health Initiative Chief Justice Donald W. Beatty has authorized the Judicial Branch to establish the S.C. Courts Mental Health Initiative, a collaborative, statewide endeavor to improve the administration of justice for people affected by mental health issues. Designed to affect change through unprecedented statewide collaboration, participants in the Initiative will include executive and legislative branch agency officials, state and local behavioral health organizations, law enforcement agencies, lawmakers, healthcare providers, prosecuting attorneys, defense attorneys, and others.

Oregon hospitals sue state over mental health care treatment Three of Oregon’s largest hospital systems are suing the state over its alleged lack of adequate mental health care, which they say has forced the hospital systems to house patients in need of mental health treatment for months. The state psychiatric hospital’s ongoing capacity crisis, along with a recent court ruling that strictly limits who can be admitted, has left community hospitals with nowhere to send patients in need of mental health treatment. Hospital representatives say they have been forced to treat those patients long-term.

Court outpatient referrals could free up hospitals, jails from mental health cases State behavioral and criminal justice leaders are encouraging more diversion from institutions including jail and hospitals for misdemeanor cases that judges believe could be mental health-related. “The earlier the diversion, the more likely the individual will be successful,” said Karen Bailey, former state director of Forensic Services at Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities. “The longer you put somebody in an institution, the more likely they are going to lose their job, their housing and your social supports.” Early diversions in the court process could lead to less stigma and less involvement in the criminal system, she said.

How communities are creating more equitable justice systems with a focus on mental health “We recognize that people with mental health conditions and people in Black and African American communities have very different experiences in their interactions with the justice system,” says Merisa Heu-Weller, general manager of the Microsoft Justice Reform Initiative. “Our commitment is to advancing racial equity and fairness in the justice system so communities can thrive.” In Los Angeles County, home to the largest jail population in the U.S., the Rapid Diversion Program is already having an impact. Based at six courthouses in the county, behavioral health specialists assess defendants for mental health diagnoses early in court proceedings and connect them with case management, treatment, housing and job opportunities. The voluntary, growing program doesn’t require a guilty plea and is available to people charged with non-violent misdemeanors or felonies. Cases are dismissed when a participant completes the program.

In SF and Across California, People With Severe Mental Illness Languish Untreated in Jails, Hospitals As public pressure mounts on San Francisco and other cities to force people who are mentally ill and homeless into treatment programs, many of those already confined under what’s known as “conservatorship” have no place to go. One individual in a local jail has been waiting for a treatment bed for nearly 1,200 days, according to Kara Chien, managing attorney of the SF Public Defender’s Mental Health Unit.

Three ways new findings by the state could change criminal justice in Indianapolis A study by the state examining its own approach to addressing behavioral health crises among Hoosiers calls for significant changes in the system that could impact emergency response, the criminal justice system and policing.  Specifically, recommendations could result in: More mental health professionals in Indianapolis who can respond to calls for help; More Indianapolis police officers can focus on public safety versus mental health-related calls; and More ways for non-violent defendants to get treatment versus jail time.

The Solution to America’s Mental Health Crisis Already Exists Across the country hundreds of thousands of Americans with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, have been consigned to lives of profound instability. Instead of therapists to help them manage their illnesses or doctors to oversee their medication regimens or evidence-based treatment for their substance use disorders, they cycle through homeless shelters and the jails and prisons that have become the nation’s largest mental health providers.

Former Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton inducted into Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame While serving on the Supreme Court, Stratton formed and chaired the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mental Illness and the Courts. After leaving the bench, she continued to work on her passions of advocacy and mental health reform. Stratton currently serves as co-chair of the Attorney General Task Force on Criminal Justice and Mental Illness and leads Step Up Ohio.

Marquette County Garners National Recognition for Justice System Innovations Marquette County recently established a Jobs Court, which helps defendants who have been convicted of low-level, nonviolent offenses find jobs. Jobs Court participants have access to social workers, as well as transportation (to and from work) and mental health care. After completing the program successfully, participants may be able to dismiss their charges. In addition, the County developed a program that diverts mentally ill individuals from general incarceration and opened a new facility staffed by a Crisis Intervention Team. In this program, sheriff's deputies are trained as Crisis Intervention Team officers. The Marquette County Public Defender's Office was also recognized for its innovative approach to ensuring that defendants have access to behavioral health services, reducing incarceration, and preventing recidivism. The office hired a mental health professional and two social work interns to help court-involved individuals navigate the system.

New youth crisis centers planned for Idaho Idaho will soon have two new kinds of centers that will provide services and resources for youth. One new type of center will be the Youth Behavioral Health Community Crisis Centers, which will “provide young people with a safe place to get help if they are having suicidal thoughts or (are) struggling with issues like drug abuse or domestic violence,” according to the Idaho Department of Juvenile Corrections.


Check In With Yourself and Your Teams on World Mental Health Day Monday, October 10th, is World Mental Health Day, an international day of awareness and action to push back against stigma and support mental health. It’s a timely opportunity for employers to check in with your people and rededicate your company to their well-being. Here are 7 steps to having a conversation about mental health in the workplace.

Workplace Mental Health Toolkit Mental Health America (MHA) created its first-ever Workplace Mental Health Toolkit: Creating a Culture of Support and Well-being to help organizations develop the foundation for a mentally healthy workplace. The toolkit also prepares employers for MHA’s Bell Seal for Workplace Mental Health 2023-23 application cycle, which is now open. In this toolkit, employer leadership, human resources, people managers, and workers can develop or improve upon existing workplace policies that uplift workers, ensure that they feel valued and heard, and improve the overall culture of well-being within an organization

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