Implementation of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: What Court Leaders Need to Know

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

The Task Force made a number of important findings, with corresponding recommendations, supported by over 100 new resources for courts and our partner stakeholders. Going forward each Behavioral Health Alerts will revisit an original Task Force resource or a new resource that supports a Task Force recommendation.

Violence and Mental Illness Myths and Reality Even though mental health is more openly discussed and accepted today than in the past there is still an ongoing concern regarding issues of violence and the common misperception that people with mental illness are far more dangerous than others in society. With this misperception and all its associations, persons with mental illness are at risk for being over-incarcerated, over-institutionalized, and marginalized in society. This Mental Health Facts in Brief will provide an overview of the all too often over-emphasized relationship between mental illness and violence.

Implementation of the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: What Court Leaders Need to Know The transition to the new 988 code to access the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline began one year ago, in July 2022. The potential of this resource is enormous but realizing its full potential will take years. The emerging mantra – someone to call, someone to respond, somewhere to go – portends the potential of 988: a continuum of appropriate response resources, from call to care. Courts have an interest and advocacy role in the infrastructure development and in its sustainability. Courts and judges should seek to be involved in the ongoing planning and implementation of 988 and broader crisis services in their jurisdictions.

Research and Resources

From Corrections to Community: Navigating the New Medicaid Section 1115 Demonstration Opportunity, Part 1 The Department of Justice’s Office of Justice Programs (OJP) and the Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services (CMCS) have partnered to provide a webinar introducing correctional leaders and allied stakeholders to the opportunities available under the new Medicaid Reentry Section 1115 demonstration opportunity to support transition-related strategies, pre-release services, and community reentry. July 19, 2023, 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm, Eastern.

HHS Publishes National Model Standards for Substance Use, Mental Health, and Family Peer Worker Certifications The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), today published National Model Standards for Peer Support Certification (PDF | 840) for substance use, mental health and family peer workers. The national model standards were created to accelerate universal adoption, recognition, and integration of the peer workforce across all elements of the healthcare system. A peer worker is someone who, through their own lived experience of addressing a substance use or mental health issue, works to help others.

TAC Research Weekly: Black patients less likely to receive follow-up care after psychiatric hospitalization Timely follow-up care after a psychiatric hospitalization is crucial to ensure successful reintegration into the community. Black patients are less likely to receive timely follow-up care after a psychiatric hospitalization, according to research published this month in “Psychiatric Services.”

Propelling Change: A Prosecutor Call to Action Prosecutors can make significant changes to the criminal justice system through more effective connections to community-based treatment and supports. Learn how you can make a difference as a prosecutor with this new CSG resource.

Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics Can Address Mental Health and Substance Use Needs Across the Criminal Justice System Intercepts There are currently more than 500 CCBHCs operating in 46 states, plus Washington, DC; Puerto Rico; and Guam. A growing number of states are moving to implement the model through a state plan amendment or Medicaid waiver, and individual community mental health and substance use services organizations continue to seek funding through SAMHSA-funded CCBHC Expansion Grants. If you are interested in seeing how you can partner with a CCBHC in your community to serve the justice-involved population, find a CCBHC near you through the CCBHC locator.

TAC Research Weekly: Promoting a continuum of care for people with SMI who experience homelessness The level of abuse, neglect, and incarceration among people with severe mental illness who are experiencing homelessness in the United States is “an unacceptable humanitarian crisis,” according to the authors of a recent article in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.” In this article, researchers from Harvard Medical School discuss the importance of providing a continuum of outpatient and inpatient care for people with severe mental illness who are experiencing homelessness.

Kennedy Forum Alignment for Progress We find ourselves in a critical moment of need—and of opportunity. In the aftermath of a global pandemic and amid ongoing economic uncertainty, the United States is experiencing an unprecedented mental health and substance use crisis. We aim to reframe mental health as a public health issue, one that requires a systems—and government—wide approach.

In the News

Mental health treatment better for some defendants and NJ A decade after New Jersey and five of its counties started diverting some nonviolent offenders into mental health treatment programs, the practice will soon go statewide. The program will work like the recovery courts. It will let qualifying criminal offenders with mental health disorders go into treatment instead of jail. If they successfully complete the treatment program, their charges could be expunged. People charged with a first-degree crime are ineligible for diversion, and those accused of violent, sexual or certain weapons offenses are presumed ineligible as well. Participation in the program also requires a determination by a licensed mental health professional that an offender’s mental disorder contributed to their commission of the charged crime.

Imprisoned — with no conviction? How one word in NC law traps mentally-ill defendants Despite no verdict in 11 years and no end in sight, the judge decided there was no “undue delay” for Perkins, or the loved ones of Justin Ervin, the man he’s accused of murdering. Perkins could continue to wait without trial for years. When Perkins was arrested and charged with murder in 2012, the law left the possibility of indefinite incarceration for defendants deemed mentally-incapable of proceeding to a trial. Judges could decide to dismiss a person’s charges after long waits — but weren’t required to. Despite this, there is always a constitutional limit on how long a person can be held in jail without conviction, but how long?

ACLU sues D.C. over police response to mental health crises The American Civil Liberties Union of D.C. has filed a federal lawsuit against the District on behalf of a local nonprofit that has asserted the city’s system of sending police officers as the “default first responders” for those experiencing a mental health crisis violates federal laws. The suit compares the way the District responds to people suffering from a physical injury with its response to those experiencing a mental health crisis. Those who are physically hurt receive a prompt, specialized response in the form of ambulances and medical professionals. However, the suit says, those experiencing a mental health crisis do not receive equivalent resources. Instead, calls to 911 often result in the city deploying D.C. police officers who, the suit argues, only escalate these situations with handcuffs and force.

Deschutes County Behavioral Health partners with 911, law enforcement to launch new Crisis Response program Preliminary data from the first two months of operation indicates the new Community Crisis Response Team responded to 551 calls for service and was able to resolve approximately 88% of these calls without law enforcement. The County’s mobile crisis team has been providing local crisis intervention services with and without law enforcement for more than 20 years. This program will see an expansion of the mobile crisis team’s capability to respond to crisis calls without law enforcement partners and will increase community accessibility to crisis services.

New Hampshire, Hospitals Resolve Lawsuit Over Holding Psychiatric Patients in Emergency Rooms New Hampshire hospitals and state health officials said Wednesday they will work together to solve the state’s longstanding problem of holding psychiatric patients in hospital emergency rooms, a move that ends years of litigation. A federal judge who had declared the practice unconstitutional in February followed up in May with an order giving the state one year to develop a system under which people would be held for no more than six hours before being transferred to another facility for treatment. Emergency room boarding, with people in crisis waiting days or weeks for treatment because of a shortage of inpatient beds, has become a flashpoint and focus of multiple lawsuits.

Federal judge fines WA agency $100 million for mental health failures In a ruling Friday evening, Judge Marsha J. Pechman of the U.S. Western District of Washington issued a scathing decision, finding the Washington Department of Social and Health Services in breach of a settlement agreement known as Trueblood that established time frames for people in jail to get services at state psychiatric facilities. “The primary reason [people who fall under the settlement’s terms] suffered was DSHS’s own lack of foresight, creativity, planning, and timely response to a crisis of its own making,” Pechman wrote in her 52-page decision.

‘Languishing’: Sacramento sheriff homeless outreach finds mental illness, addiction, crime Over five days in May, sheriff’s deputies went to areas throughout the county including homeless encampments to speak to people experiencing homelessness. The deputies spoke with 198 homeless people. They said only one person accepted their offer of services to help them get off the streets. Bob Erlenbusch of Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness said he’s not surprised the deputies found very few homeless accepting help. In fact, he’s surprised they had as many as one. He said reaching out to the unhoused needs to be a trauma-informed approach with teams of skilled social workers; ideally, one of them a former homeless person who can offer a way out based on experience.

County Approves Multi-Million Dollar Mental Health Diversion Center The Bucks County Commissioners voted Wednesday to approve a more than $16 million mental health diversion center. There will be a short-term observation unit, a restoration of competency unit, and a residential treatment facility for men and women. The length of stays at the facility will be from weeks to as long as nine months. The Diversion, Assessment, Rehabilitation and Treatment Center will be able to serve as an alternative for a district judge to send a person for evaluation and resources instead of sending them to the correctional facility. People leaving the jail, in custody, or on probation and parole will also be able to use the facility.


Will Poor Mental Health Impair Arizona's Economic Health And mental health challenges continue to escalate in today’s hypercompetitive environment, inflationary uncertainty, polarized politics, technological job obsolescence, supply chain risks, and pressures to upgrade workforce skills. No single organization can address this complex challenge alone. We must collaborate decisively across healthcare, government, business, education, and non-profit organizations. The best strategy to achieve a positive mental health and wellness culture in the workplace, schools, and communities is through collaborative action.


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