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 a Task Force recommendation and an accompanying resource.
Finding: Current state court caseflow management practices are not designed to address the behavioral health needs of individuals. Individuals with serious mental illnesses are languishing in jails as a result of case backlogs, exacerbated by the pandemic, and a lack of community-based alternatives and supports.
Recommendation: Courts should establish case management best practices regarding cases with persons with behavioral health issues, including the effective triage of cases. Courts should examine the New Model for Collaborative Court and Community Caseflow Management, which explores person-centered justice for individuals with behavioral health needs. This new collaborative approach is necessary to ensure public safety, control costs, and create fair and effective criminal justice and case management systems, tasks made more urgent by the pandemic and the resulting case backlogs.
NCSC Tiny Chat Super Bowl Commercial Lights, camera, commercials! While some people love the Super Bowl for the football matchup, others are pumped for everything that comes in between, especially the commercials! We are back at it again, offering some of our own fast, catchy commercials about everything from NCSC trainings for guardians to judicial mental health diversion toolkits. Plus, it would not be a nod to Super Bowl ads without a celebrity, and we’ve got ourselves a fantastic celebrity judge cameo. You will not want to miss this one!
Montgomery Court Will Pilot Mental Health Program The Montgomery County Circuit Court has been selected by the National Center for State Courts as one of five courts around the U.S. to pilot a program to improve pre-adjudication diversion for individuals with mental health and behavioral health needs. The selection was announced this week by 12th Circuit Presiding Judge Jason Lamb. “This is an exciting opportunity for Montgomery County, the 12th Circuit and the state of Missouri,” said Judge Lamb. “Over the past few years, we have made great strides in our local court system’s responses to individuals with mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. This project is the next step in that continuing effort. By improving our responses to individual circumstances, we increase the faith and confidence that all people can have in the criminal justice system.”
Research and Resources
Finding the Way Home: Accessing Housing Resources to Support Individuals with Justice Involvement in Reentry This webinar will highlight federal housing resources and programs that are available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Attendees will be introduced to the HUD Exchange’s Homelessness Assistance Programs: Preventing Homelessness Among People Leaving Prisons and Jails resources that exist to help individuals and their services providers prevent homelessness upon reentry back into the community. Representatives from HUD and The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center will provide an overview of the resources along with additional information about ways to effectively implement them.
It Takes a Village: Addressing Behavioral Health Disparities in the Black Community Featuring panelists with lived experience, community leaders, and non-traditional practitioners, this SAMHSA roundtable will highlight the often untapped cultural resources and innovative programs that celebrate Black culture and history, and promote recovery and resiliency in the community.
Trauma-Informed Treatment Courts & Peer Integration Learning Collaboratives The GAINS Center has extended the application period for jurisdictions interested in collaborating with subject-matter experts through Criminal Justice Learning Collaboratives (LCs) focused on Trauma-Informed Treatment Courts and Peer Integration in Treatment Courts.
More Than 1 in 9 Adults With Co-Occurring Mental Illness and Substance Use Disorders Are Arrested Annually To better understand this issue at the point of arrest, which is the “front door” of the criminal legal system, The Pew Charitable Trusts analyzed data from 2017 to 2019 from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Pew’s analysis found that adults reporting co-occurring serious or moderate mental illness and substance use disorders in the past year were far more likely to be arrested compared with both those with mental illness alone and those who didn’t experience any mental illness or substance use disorder as defined by NSDUH.
Notice of Funding Opportunity - Assertive Community Treatment The purpose of this program is to establish or expand and maintain ACT programs for transition-aged youth and adults with a serious mental illness (SMI) or serious emotional disturbance (SED). Recipients are expected to implement an ACT program to fidelity and provide ACT services to the population of focus. With this program, SAMHSA aims to improve behavioral health outcomes for individuals by reducing rates of hospitalization, mortality, substance use, homelessness, and involvement with the criminal justice system.
Breaking the Cycle In 2021, the Wayne County Probate Court established a Behavioral Health Unit (BHU) within the court to convene the stakeholders in the community to improve the justice system response to mental illness. The BHU program is focused on the civil justice system. By intervening early and coordinating care, it helps to break the cycle of repetitive emergency care, hospitalization, and engagement with the criminal justice system.
VA Taking Applications for $30M in Case Management Grants The funding, which is available through VA’s Homeless Providers Grant and Per Diem (GPD) Program, will give organizations the funding they need to hire case managers, who will help veterans search for, obtain, and successfully transition to permanent housing; troubleshoot challenges and barriers to maintaining permanent housing; and connect with services to address issues like poor credit history. VA anticipates awarding 100 grants for up to $300,000 each to support approximately 150 case manager positions.
New NRI State Profiles report: Financing Behavioral Health Crisis Services: 2022 Guided by a Steering Committee of State Behavioral Health (SBHA) Agency Leaders, NRI has been compiling information about priority issues from all the state behavioral health agencies. The first 10 new Profiles reports were released in January and cover behavioral health crisis services, workforce shortages and training initiatives and state support for housing for individuals with mental illnesses.
JCOIN Publications Library Explore the publications and research in the JCOIN research library including articles, protocols, presentations, and more.
U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness Newsletter Upcoming webinars, conferences, and office hours, funding and grant opportunities, and more.
CSG State of Justice The downward spiral: How Omaha’s criminal and mental health systems break down—and ways we could fix them; Waco police dispatch to add mental health call-takers, responders; and 988: A shared opportunity for criminal justice and behavioral health partners.
New numbers highlight Covid-19’s impact on inpatient mental health care and emergency departments New numbers reported this week suggest that inpatient psychiatric care capacity in Vermont slowly started to rebound last year, but still remains significantly below pre-pandemic levels. Meanwhile, the total number of days that patients seeking mental health care spent in emergency departments statewide reached new heights. That number, over 10,500 days, now appears to be more than triple what a similar analysis found as a baseline in 2015.
Telehealth Delivery of Behavioral Health Care in Medicaid: Findings from a Survey of State Medicaid Programs Telehealth can be an important component of facilitating access to care for Medicaid enrollees, particularly the nearly four in ten enrollees with behavioral health needs (mental health conditions and/or substance use disorder (SUD)). During the COVID-19 pandemic, states took advantage of broad authority to expand Medicaid telehealth policies, resulting in high telehealth utilization across populations. In particular, states report that telehealth has helped maintain and expand access to behavioral health care during the pandemic.
Now Accepting Submissions to the Journal for Advancing Justice Vol. V NADCP invites submissions to the next volume of our peer-reviewed Journal for Advancing Justice: “Sustaining Long-Term Recovery as Part of Justice Reform.” This volume is scheduled to be published in spring of 2024 and is supported with grant funding from the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Executive Office of the President.
In the News
Texans with mental illnesses are dying in Houston-area jails A Houston Landing investigation found that nearly 180 people in Texas had been flagged as potentially mentally ill but died in jail instead of getting the care they needed.
Severe Mental Illness: Do You Have a Legal Right to Psychosis? Many people with untreated SMI simply don't respond to any appeal for voluntary treatment. They may not believe they are sick, or their illness may cause intense paranoia or other symptoms that make it impossible for them to willingly engage with legal or medical authorities or even follow the guidance of family members. And this raises a tricky legal question: Barring a crime or imminent danger, when is a person's mental illness severe enough to trigger intervention by medical authorities, family members, or the state?
Involuntary Treatment of Mental Illness: Here We Go Again Interestingly enough, there is one group missing from the range of mental health consumers, legal specialists, homelessness advocates, and social libertarians quoted in these involuntary psychiatric treatment stories: psychiatrists. Psychiatrists, it turns out, do not seem to have a prominent public place in these discussions.4 And it is not difficult to imagine a reason for this. Involuntary treatment raises the specter of coercive psychiatry, and the image of the psychiatrist as a power-hungry sadist. It revives and reinforces the hoary impression that the psychiatrist is an enforcer of social control rather than as a healer of the mind. And this is an image that very few psychiatrists wish to revisit.
Spokane County is about to try a criminal justice reform effort that once seemed doomed The Spokane County Commission on Jan. 10 unanimously authorized staff to finalize a $400,000 contract with Pioneer Human Services to run a supported release program for approximately a year. Supported release gives judges the option of releasing nonviolent defendants from jail and connecting them with resources rather than holding them on a low bond. The MacArthur Foundation has given Spokane County more than $400,000 to try supported release in district court as part of its Safety and Justice Challenge, an effort to reduce incarceration and racial inequities. The idea has long had the support of judges, public defenders and criminal justice reform advocates.
Ravven Appointed to Vermont Judiciary Commission on Mental Health and the Courts Simha Ravven, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry, has been appointed to the Vermont Judiciary Commission on Mental Health and the Courts. The Vermont Supreme Court established the commission in recognition of the impact people with mental health issues have on Vermont’s courts, and to respond to their needs, according to the commission’s website. The commission is comprised of representatives from each of the three co-equal branches of Vermont state government including judges, legislators, and executive agencies that assist people with serious mental illness. The purpose of the commission is to “advance the pursuit of equal justice under the law while identifying advances in the justice system that will positively impact the administration of justice where it intersects with mental health, evaluate solutions, and recommend change.”
Missouri Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Urges Mental Health Support “Too often, we are confronted with individuals manifesting mental health conditions so profound, they are not even competent to stand trial,” Wilson said. Resources like medication and case management can restore people’s ability to stand trial, and urged the lawmakers to make it easier to bring those resources to people. He also said how effective treatment courts are in finding the best solutions for individuals with mental health and substance abuse disorders.
Utah State Bar Offers Wellbeing Support for Lawyers The Utah State Bar has partnered with two leading names in Well-Being, Tava Mental Health and Unmind. These are different but complimentary services to provide assistance wherever you are on the mental health spectrum–from thriving to surviving and everywhere in between! Well-being encompasses both physical and mental health, and plays a crucial role in how we think, feel, and behave. These services are now available to members of the Bar and their dependents.
Trauma-Informed Lawyering and Implications to Lawyer Competency and Professional Integrity The legal profession has been slow to recognize what many other service professions generally accept – that there are personal risks involved in working closely with individuals who have experienced traumatic events. Being informed about the impact of trauma on human thoughts and behavior and adjusting both personal and professional practices accordingly is “trauma-informed lawyering.” It is as important in the legal profession for the well-being of the clients, lawyers, and the professional community as it is in other professions such as first responders and therapists. This article describes some key concepts of trauma and its impact on individual thoughts and behaviors as well as the importance of trauma-informed lawyering and suggests strategies to implement the four key components of trauma-informed lawyering.
Mental Health, Law School, and Bar Admissions: Eliminating Stigma and Fostering a Healthier Profession Part II of this Comment explores the current state of mental health in the legal profession and the shortcomings of state bar associations, lawyer assistance programs “LAPs”), and courts applying the Americans with Disabilities Act (“ADA”) in combating the profession’s mental health problem. Part III then examines practical steps the profession can take at the law school level that will aid in eliminating the stigma associated with seeking mental health treatment in the legal profession, thus addressing the problem at its source.