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
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Upcoming Webinars & Training

Key statistics for corrections are now available on BJS.gov

  • BJS has updated their website to include easy access to trend data from BJS’s core data collections. This might be useful for understanding where your community fits in the national context and for funding proposals.

Live Forum Highlights Resources Available for Criminal Justice Agencies

  • The Community Corrections Collaborative Network will host a live online discussion to address resources available through federal funding for community corrections and criminal justice agencies to help identify and address the needs of people in the system, particularly those with mental disorders and/or substance use disorders. The discussion will also provide information on how to access funding and assistance. The event is scheduled for September 10, 2015 from 1 – 2:30 EST.

Building a Trauma-Informed Nation: Moving the Conversation into Action

  • The Federal Partners’ Committee on Women & Trauma is sponsoring a 2-day workshop designed to expand the conversation about trauma-informed approaches and create a national action agenda for creating a trauma-informed nation. This meeting will spotlight effective implementation of trauma-informed approaches in four major areas: education, health care, the justice system, and communities and congregations. The workshop will be on September 29-30, 2015, 11:30 am-5:30 pm EST each day in Washington DC. Click here to reserve a spot for the workshop.

23rd Annual Forensic Rights and Treatment Conference in December, 2015

  • The Forensic Rights and Treatment conference has a call-out for papers. Click here to see the instructions for submitting a proposal.

Mental Health and Criminal Justice in the News

The Bail Trap (New York Times Magazine, August 13, 2015)

  • The recent article in the New York Times Magazine highlights the discussion of bail report and the need for pretrial release programs in the criminal justice system.

A Pennsylvania Re-entry Program is highlighted by the Department of Justice (August 18, 2015)

  • The Department of Justice released a news alert describing a unique re-entry program for federal offenders in Pennsylvania. Read about The Court Assisted Re-Entry (CARE) Program here.

Why are so many mentally ill people imprisoned in PA? (Phila Inquirer, 8/1/15)

  • Associated Press writer, Daniel Simmons-Ritchie, reacts to the recent PennLive series about the mentally ill in PA prisons and talks to a number of stakeholders about the issue.

State Sued as Mentally Ill Defendants Face Long Waits in Jail (California Report, Aug 12, 2015)

  • Article discussed an ACLU lawsuit filed against the state of CA, stating that many vulnerable inmates languish in jail, sometimes for as long as a year.

Justice Department Reaches Agreement with Los Angeles County to Implement Sweeping Reforms on Mental Health Care and Use of Force Throughout the County Jail System (Justice News, August 5, 2015)

  • The Justice Department has reached a comprehensive settlement agreement with the county of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles County Sheriff to protect prisoners from serious suicide risks and excessive force in the Los Angeles County Jails. Read the full story here.

New Efforts To Help People With Mental Illness Get Treatment Instead Of Jail Time”

  • On August 4, 2015, NPR hosted a broadcast entitled “New Efforts To Help People With Mental Illness Get Treatment Instead Of Jail Time.” Guests included Dr. Fred Osher, Tom Van Hemert (CIT Coordinator, VA), Evelyn Lundberg Stratton (former justice on the Ohio Supreme Court) and Pete Earley (author of Crazy: A Father's Search Through America's Mental Health Madness," was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2007 and father of an adult son diagnosed with bipolar disorder). Click here to listen to the broadcast.

Probation May Sound Light, but Punishments Can Land Hard (NY Times, August 2, 2015)

  • New York Times writer Shaila Dewan talks about the life complications associated with being on probation that can sometimes derail a stable life for a non-violent offender.

From Patients to Prisoners (PennLive series, July 2015)

  • During the week of 7/20-24/15, PennLive offered a series of articles entitled “From Patience to Prisoners.” We have saved several of the articles for your reference and they are available here.

Police officer mental health training bill becomes law

  • On July 13, 2015 the PLS reporter noted that Gov. Wolf signed into law a bill that would require police officers going through MPOTEC to be trained on how to interact with those suffering from mental health issues. The bill--now Act 25 of 2015--was sponsored by Rep. Tom Caltagirone (D-Berks), and is a concept that has been around for a number of sessions. The legislation leaves it up to MPOTEC to fill out the specifics on the type of training officers will receive.

WRAP has a new website address

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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