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

Grant funds help keep mentally ill out of jail (The Gainesville Sun)

  • A three-year grant from the state Department of Children and Families to Alachua County aims to get at-risk people with mental issues into treatment programs rather than jail. Since its disbursement, more than 75 percent of patients who were discharged from treatment programs have been deemed successfully rehabilitated by mental health officials.

Can Democrats and Republicans Now Agree to Reform the Awful U.S. Criminal Justice System?

  • A Capitol Hill panel on criminal justice policy gathered on November 12, 2014 to discuss "the future of bipartisan sentencing and prison reform." It's an area that many are hoping could gain real momentum in what's predicted to be an otherwise gridlocked Congress. Representatives from Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM), Right on Crime, the Charles Koch Institute (CKI), the Heritage Foundation, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) were present.

Behind bars and in danger?

  • Story highlights the case of Mike Brady, an inmate with a drug addiction who died in the Philadelphia jail. Brady's is one of several jail deaths in recent years under circumstances that raise questions about how correctional officers treat the city's 8,500 inmates - and how city officials handle allegations of brutality, especially in cases where excessive-force may have contributed to an inmate's death.

World's Largest Law Enforcement Group Endorses Court-Ordered Outpatient Treatment for At-Risk People with Severe Mental Illness (

  • The International Association of Chiefs of Police endorsed unanimously, the ďauthorization, implementation, appropriate funding, and consistent use of assisted outpatient treatment (AOT) laws to ensure treatment in the least restrictive setting possible for individuals whose illness prevents them from otherwise accessing such care voluntarily.Ē

Startup's Education Platform For Curbing Recidivism Launches Pilot In Philly Prison (Forbes)

  • Jail Education Solutions is a startup and part of FastFWD, a social enterprise accelerator in Philly focused on public safety. Now, it just launched a pilot of its tablet-based wireless education system for inmates in prison and jail. Itís in the 8,500 bed correctional facility in Philadelphia and will be rolled out over the next several months.

Beyond Prisons, Mental Health Clinics: When Austerity Opens Cages, Where Do the Services Go? (The Public Eye)

  • Earlier forms of "downsizing"- deinstitutionalization movements in particular - offer an important window into our current political moment. They also offer a warning about the importance of thinking more critically about human capture and confinement and the use of public dollars. While there were possible positive outcomes, few to none of the local necessary community services were supported, either financially or ideologically.

Judges impose sanctions on Washington health agencies for lack of inmate mental health care (Puget Sound Business Journal)

  • Washington state judges are imposing sanctions on the state's health agencies for failure to provide evaluations and treatment for mentally ill county inmates, the Associated Press reported this week. Judges are also holding those agencies in contempt of court.

Police need more training to deal with mentally ill, L.A. County told (Los Angeles Times)

  • A consultant hired to find a way to divert the mentally ill from Los Angeles County's jail system found that more resources were needed to train police officers, dispatchers and other criminal justice workers on how to deal with people with mental illness, and that law enforcement agencies should expand the use of special teams that respond to people in crisis.

In Crisis: Courts and jails double as mental health provider (Idaho Statesman)

  • "When I got arrested, to me, it was a blessing," Guevara said. "I felt a load lifted off my shoulders. I know I'm facing a new charge, and yes, I may end up back in prison. But in the long run, I'm sober. And maybe, if the judges allow it, I'll get the help through the mental health court, and I think that'll be the help I need. But at least I'm not using anymore. And I didn't follow through with the plans I had." Those plans were to kill herself.

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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