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.

News and Information
County and Program Information
Center of Excellence Blog
Resource Center

New Report Highlights States with Fewer Returns to Prison

  • A new Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC) report—Reducing Recidivism: States Deliver Results—highlights significant reductions in recidivism rates in eight states, including Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Wisconsin. The declines in recidivism—the percentage of those returned to prison within three years of their release—ranged from about 6 percent to 18 percent.

Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act Amended

  • In March 2014,House Bill 21 (PN 114) passed the Senate unanimously and was subsequently signed by Governor Corbett. This amendment to the Pennsylvania Mental Health Procedures Act (MHPA) permits a licensed psychiatrist or a licensed psychologist to perform the examination regarding competence to stand trial and/or mental state at the time of the offense under Section 402 and 404 of the Mental Health Procedures Act. Previously these evaluations could be conducted only by psychiatrists, under the MHPA.

Center of Excellence-Authored Article Published in Psychiatric Services

  • Cross, A. B., Mulvey, E. P., Schubert, C. A., Griffin, P. A., Filone, S., Winckworth-Prejsnar, K., DeMatteo, D. & Heilbrun, K. (2014). An Agenda for Advancing Research on Crisis Intervention Teams for Mental Health Emergencies. Psychiatric Services, 65(4), 530-536. The article was authored by the staff of the Center of Excellence. It analyzes previous literature on CIT and offers recommendations for future research.

Upcoming Webinars

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Mental Health and Criminal Justice in the News

Court program aims to keep troubled veterans out of jail (Newsday)

  • Article highlighting the work and graduates of Suffolk Veteran’s Court.

U.S. Criminal Justice System Now The Caretaker Of The Mentally Ill (USA Today)

  • An overwhelmed criminal justice system has become the de facto caretaker of Americans who are mentally ill and emotionally disturbed, says USA Today. From police departments and prisons to courthouses and jails, the care of those who are mentally ill weighs on law enforcement authorities, many of whom acknowledge they lack both resources and expertise to deal with the crushing responsibility. In a series, the newspaper will explore the human and financial costs the U.S. pays for not caring more about nearly 10 million people with serious mental illness.

Merging Family and Drug Courts (The Crime Report)

  • A specialized court in London, dedicated to handling cases involving parents who abuse drugs and alcohol, keep families together while reducing defendant drug use, according to a study by the non-profit Center for Justice Innovation.

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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