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

Prison Health Care Panel (C-SPAN)

  • Watch the video -- The Alliance for Health Reform held an August 1st briefing on the challenges of delivering health care services to a growing prison population. Panelists include advocates and former inmates.

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

NIC's Dosage Probation Solicitation: An Informational Webinar (9/29/14; 1:00PM ET; National Institute of Corrections)

  • The National Institute of Corrections (NIC) seeks to identify two jurisdictions to engage in a partnership to pilot test a new model of probation supervision, Dosage Probation. The Dosage Probation Model builds on evidence-based and promising practices to restructure sentencing and probation management practices, with the goal of improving offender outcomes (i.e., recidivism reduction) and decreasing the costs associated with lengthy supervision terms. In this webinar, NIC and project staff will review the materials contained in the solicitation-particularly the goals of the project, specifics that dosage probation model pilot sites will be expected to implement, and the application requirements.

PREA in Action—Committing to Safety and Respect for LGBTI Youth and Adults in Correctional Settings - Lessons from the Field (9/25/14; 3:00PM ET; Vera Institute/National PREA Resource Center)

  • The Vera Institute, in collaboration with the National PREA Resource Center, presents a webinar on committing to a culture of safety and respect for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex (LGBTI) youth and adults in correctional institutions. In this webinar, Lorie Brisbin, Correctional Program Specialist at the National Institute of Corrections will discuss the importance of having strong policies and practices geared toward keeping LGBTI adults and youth safe. Anne Elwart, the Probation Manager at the William F. James Boys Ranch in Santa Clara County, California, and Major Debra Schmidt from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office in Texas will discuss steps their agencies have taken to create cultures of safety and respect for LGBTI people in their custody.

Mental Health and Criminal Justice in the News

McGreevey: New Jersey City prisoner re-entry center 'about reclaiming people's lives' (The Jersey Journal)

  • Martin's Place, the new location of Jersey City's prisoner re-entry and jobs program, opened on Martin Luther King Drive Monday to offer what Mayor Steve Fulop called "the dignity of second chances." Fulop has made the city's new prisoner re-entry program, headed by the Jersey City Employment Training Program, one of his top priorities, tapping former Gov. Jim McGreevey to head the initiative even before he was sworn-in as mayor last year. The city has spent about $500,000 in federal grant funds to renovate its new home at the Hub (its prior location was in Journal Square).

Mental illness program could transform L.A. County justice system (Los Angeles Times)

  • Los Angeles officials announced Wednesday the launch of an alternative sentencing program aimed at diverting mentally ill, low-level offenders from jail into treatment, a project they hope will signal a dramatic shift for the county's criminal justice system. The $756,000 initiative marks one of the county's most significant attempts to find a better way to treat people who have mental illness and wind up in the criminal justice system by offering them transitional housing, medical treatment and job-hunting help. Officials say the pilot program will start in Van Nuys and initially help 50 people at a time, but it is expected to spread throughout the county and could accommodate up to 1,000 people at once.

Philly mental health court celebrates five years of putting offenders in treatment, not jail (

  • The first mental health court in Pennsylvania celebrated five years of getting offenders -- who would otherwise be in jail -- into mental health treatment Thursday. These courts provide alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders with acute "clinical disorders," as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual.

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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