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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Upcoming Webinars & Training

Transforming Prisons, Restoring Lives: Final Recommendations of the Charles Colson Task Force on Federal Corrections

  • A press conference and public briefing discussing the recommendations for improving the federal corrections system will be held on January 26, 2016 from 11 – 12:15pm. The meeting is open to the public with prior registration (click here to register). For a copy of the report (available after the meeting) email Kate Villarreal.

Understanding Justice-involved Veterans

  • The National Institute of Corrections will host a webinar to highlight strategies for criminal justice professionals to effectively work with justice-involved veterans to help them successfully navigate the criminal justice system. The webinar will be held Thursday, February 11, 2016 from 1:00 – 2:30 PM ET. Click here to register.

Surviving the Trenches, The Impact of Trauma Exposure on Corrections Professional

  • The National Reentry Resource Center and the American Probation and Parole Association will host a webinar on Feb 17, 2016 from 2 -3:30 (EST). This webinar will examine secondary trauma and compassion fatigue as experienced by corrections professionals. It will bring together the latest research on the physiological impact of trauma exposure with simple, realistic techniques that can mitigate the negative effects, improve personal well being, and enhance professional longevity. Register here.

4th Annual Statewide CIT Meeting

  • Registration is now open for the 4th Annual Statewide CIT Meeting on March 23, 2016 (State College, PA). Major Sam Cochran will be the speaker this year and he will conduct two sessions during the event: CIT and the Community: Partnerships, Responsibility, Accountability and "MORE" ; and Verbal De-Escalation: Performance and Skills are the Mosaic Art of CIT. Space will be limited, so please register early. Register here.

Peer Specialist Training Series

  • The National Technical Assistance Center will offer a series of 3 webinars which will explore topics related to Peer Specialists. Read more about the series here.

Call for Presentations: 2016 NIC 3rd Annual Virtual Conference: “Leading with Innovation”

  • The NIC is looking for the nation’s best practitioners to share their work and submit presentations for this Virtual conference that will take place in November, 2016. See more information here.

Mental Health and Criminal Justice in the News

Opinion: How Federal Investments Make Us Smarter about Reducing Recidivism (1/28/16, CSG)

  • Council of State Governments Director, Michael Thompson, shares his views of why it is important for the federal government to invest in a variety of models for reducing recidivism. Read this interesting reflection here.

Department of Human Services and ACLU Reach Settlement Agreement Regarding Forensic Mental Health Services (1/27/16, DHS)

  • The Department of Human Services (DHS) today announced that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regarding individuals served through Pennsylvania’s forensic mental health system. Read the full announcement here.

Congress Funds Key Criminal Justice Programs (1/18/16, CSG)

  • Congress approved a $1.15 trillion Omnibus Appropriations bill that would fund three key programs championed by The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center: the Second Chance Act (SCA), the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA), and the Justice Reinvestment Initiative. Read the article and review the text of the bill here.

New Public Forum: Community Corrections Collaborative Network (1/14/16, NIC)

  • Take advantage of NIC’s new public forum focused on community corrections! The Community Corrections Collaborative Network (CCCN) is comprised of the leading associations for pretrial, probation, parole and drug courts. Each association has two representatives that attend two in person meetings per fiscal year. They also collaborate on projects and present workshops at national conferences in between meetings, and try to stay connected to the field. Access the forum here.

Corrections Reform Isn’t Just about Cutting Prison Populations (1/12/16, Crime Report)

  • Population data just released by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) show a continued modest decline in the number of people supervised in U.S. correctional systems, averaging a 1 percent decrease annually from 2007 to 2014. The national data are useful, but they also can obscure the variation among the states in corrections policy and allocation of resources and this variation matters. Read the article here.

House Judiciary Committee Approves Bill to Improve Care for Mentally Ill Offenders (1/12/16, CSG)

Reinvesting in Law Enforcement to Reduce Crime: Oklahoma’s ‘Safe Oklahoma Grant Program’ (1/11/16, CSG)

  • Faced with one of the highest violent crime rates in the country in 2010, Oklahoma state policymakers created the Safe Oklahoma Grant Program to fund law enforcement-led strategies to reduce violent crime as part of the state’s justice reinvestment effort. The grant program prioritizes work that targets five key areas related to preventing violent crime: implementing evidence-based policing strategies; increasing technological capacity to support crime prevention; improving analytical capacity; engaging with community partners; and providing victim services. An early evaluation shows a reduction in crime. Read the article here.

With Sons in Solitary, Mothers Fight for Their Freedom and Their Lives (1/11/16, SolitaryWatch)

  • This article provides a glimpse of the torment that conditions place upon the mothers of young men , many of them mentally ill, who are held in solitary confinement. Read the article here.

Prisons have become America’s New Asylums (1/5/16,

  • Mentally Ill people are locked up for trivial reasons and get much worse. Read the article here.

BJS Reports Slight Decrease in Correctional Population (1/5/16, The Crime Report)

  • The total U.S. correctional population—including people serving prison and jail sentences and those on probation and parole—decreased by 0.8 percent (52,200 people) from 2013 to 2014, according to a report released yesterday by the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Researchers attribute the slight drop to a decline in the number of people under community supervision, which has decreased by an average 1.2 percent per year since 2007. Read the report here.

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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