Reducing Justice Involvement For People with Mental Illness.

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The Pennsylvania Mental Health and Justice Center of Excellence is a collaborative effort of Drexel University and the University of Pittsburgh. It is funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime & Delinquency and the Pennsylvania Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The purpose of the Center is to work with Pennsylvania communities to identify points of interception at which an intervention can be made to prevent individuals with mental illness from entering or penetrating deeper into the criminal justice system.

The Center will work collaboratively with the Commonwealth and locales in planning and implementing programs, providing information to promote their use of evidence-based practices and serve as a resource for technical assistance and training. The Center will also host a central repository for collected data and information on criminal justice/mental health responses throughout the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Click here to view the official announcement of the PA Mental Health and Justice Center of Excellence.

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Mental Health and Criminal Justice in the News

Sen. Franken, Rep. Doug Collins Introduce Bipartisan Measure to Combat Mental Health Crisis in Criminal Justice System (CSG Justice Center)

  • Today, U.S. Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) introduced bipartisan legislation to make communities in Minnesota and across the country safer by improving access to mental health services for people in the criminal justice system who need treatment.

Mental-Health Treatment for Defendants Dogged by Delays (The Wall Street Journal)

  • In many states, defendants charged with misdemeanors and low-level felonies who show signs of mental illness can spend months in jail awaiting evaluations or hospital beds. Sometimes these waiting periods are actually as long as the maximum length of incarceration allowable by law for the charges they are facing.

Police Shooting Victim in Georgia Tried to Follow ‘Sensible’ Path (New York Times)

  • An Air Force veteran with a severe mental illness was shot twice and killed by a police officer during a mental health crisis in DeKalb County (Ga). “To come home from Afghanistan and be killed by someone who’s supposed to protect you — that I don’t understand,” said the vet’s brother.

A New Approach That Unwinds the Drug War and Produces Dramatic Reductions in Recidivism (Huffington Post)

  • One of the most innovative reforms in the country is one you've probably never heard of. That's about to change, because Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) is transforming the national discussion about how to end the war on drugs and mass incarceration.

The Social Worker in the Patrol Car (The Crime Repot)

  • Cops and civilians are teaming up in pilot programs aimed at changing how the justice system deals with the mentally ill—with impressive results so far.

The Processing and Treatment of Mentally Ill Persons in the Criminal Justice System (The Urban Institute)

  • A new report highlights the variations in policies and protocols used for individuals with mental illness in jurisdictions across the country. To read the full report, click here.

Wolf Seeks to Widen Public Access to Drug Overdose Antidote (WPXI News)

  • Gov. Tom Wolf wants to widen public access to a prescription drug that can prevent fatalities from drug overdoses.

Click here to find information by county including descriptive data (e.g. crime & mental health stats) and contact information for county agencies.

Click here to find program information by intercept.

Looking to have questions answered or to discuss issues with your peers in other counties? Our blog will give you the opportunity to initiate conversations with the Center of Excellence staff and your peers.

Click here to view our blog or start a conversation!

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