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

Pretrial Initiatives Survey

  • The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency (PCCD), in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs (DDAP), is interested in identifying and mapping Pretrial Diversion Programs for Adult Offenders across Pennsylvania. Additionally, PCCD and DDAP are jointly interested in the manner and timeliness in which the Court Reporting Network (CRN) Evaluation is completed for DUI offenders. Please follow the link to respond and provide the necessary descriptions for the specified questions.

23rd Annual Forensic Rights and Treatment Conference in December 1-3, 2015

  • The Forensic Rights and Treatment conference is open for registration. An informative pre-conference workshop will be conducted by the COE staff. We’d love for you to join us! Click here for the conference brochure and registration information.

SAMHSA’s GAINS Center Seeks Communities to Develop Trauma-Informed Training Capacity

  • The GAINS Center is offering a series of Train-The-Trainer (TTT) events to train local trainers to deliver its How Being Trauma-Informed Improves Criminal Justice System Responses training program. These Train-The-Trainer (TTT) events will be offered free of charge to selected communities between February 2016 and August 2016. Applications to participate are due by December 10, 2015. See the GAINS Center website for additional information. A copy of the solicitation is also available here.

Second Chance Act & JMHCP Conferences

  • Registration is now open for the 2015 Second Chance Act & JMHCP National Conferences. These conferences represent a unique opportunity for SCA and JMHCP grant recipients to engage with experts in the field and interact with fellow practitioners from around the country to learn about evidence-based practices and promising approaches to reducing recidivism and improving outcomes for people released from prisons, jails, and juvenile correctional facilities. The conference will be held in Washington, DC from December 14-18, 2015. Register by November 16 by clicking here. Conference registration is now open.

Mental Health and Criminal Justice in the News

Argus Leader investigation: Locked in Limbo (Argus Leader, November 20, 2015)

  • The investigation found that South Dakota routinely jails mentally ill inmates for half a year or more without trial because of a backlog of court-ordered mental health exams in the state. Read the full report here.

State Of Mind: The Criminal Justice Process And Mental Health In Massachusetts (WBGH, November 13, 2015)

  • Writer Daniel Medwed provides a brief summary of how the mental health of defendants may come into play as their trials unfold. Read the article here.

Wolf announces million dollar federal grant to improve prison education system (The PLS Reporter, 11/9/15)

  • Gov. Wolf and Department of Corrections Secretary John Wetzel announced the awarding of a grant from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Career, Technical and Adult Education to DOC. The DOC will use the grant funds to prioritize adult offenders aged 25 and younger who are medium to high risk of reoffending. One of nine awardees nationwide and the only state corrections entity to receive the Improved Reentry Education award, the $1,084,522 grant covers a three-year-period and is the largest single grant DOC has ever received. Ninety percent of the grant--$976,301—is directed federal money, and DOC is matching that with $108,221 of in-kind funds.

The 'Psychosocial Stress' of Prison Overcrowding (The Crime Report, November 10, 2015)

  • Time spent in a crowded prison environment continues to have a negative impact on inmates after their release, contributing to parole violations, according to a study published by the nonprofit advocacy organization PLOS (Public Library of Science). Read more here.

Tracking Reentry Nationwide: Strategies That Work (The Crime Report, November 10, 2015)

  • Providing inmates the opportunity to engage with community service providers prior to release from prison and ensuring they receive immediate support after release are among the most effective strategies for successful reentry, according to a report co-authored by the Research Triangle Institute and the Urban Institute. Read a summary here. The full report is available in our document library.

The Changing Relationship Between Ex-Criminals and Their Parole Officers (Governing, October 2015)

  • Rather than acting as former offenders' enemies, parole and probation officers are now working to be their mentors. Can it reduce recidivism? Read the full article here.

Corrections Secretary: Inmate reduction success has reduced cost to carry (The PLS Report, November 2, 2015)

  • During a recent briefing with reporters on the ongoing work of the Department of Corrections, Sec. John Wetzel noted the 1,400 fewer inmates since the beginning of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in 2013 has significantly reduced the department’s cost-to-carry budget. Read the article here.

Wolf signs legislation to expand housing funding for Pennsylvanian's (The PLS Report, November 6, 2015)

  • Gov. Tom Wolf has signed a bill into law that helps to expand funding opportunities for housing to every Pennsylvania County. HB 792 amends the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency Law and directs any additional money, up to $25 million, raised by the Real Estate Transfer Tax over the amount raised in 2014, to the House Affordability Rehabilitation and Enhancement Fund.

State Prison Leaders Promise Changes to Mental Health Services (North Carolina Health News, October 28, 2015)

  • At a conference for mental health advocates, prisons director, David Guice, outlines changes and new services. Read the full article here.

New NACBHDD Initiative: Developing Essential County Behavioral Health Services to Reduce the Prevalence of Persons with Mental Illness and Substance Use Conditions in County Jails

  • The National Association for County Behavioral Health & Development Disabilities announced a new initiative to develop county behavioral health services, programs, and management to reduce the prevalence of persons with mental illness and substance use conditions in county jails. Click here for an overview of the initiative and additional details.

In the News: Early Prison Release Will Test Drug Groups, Re-entry Groups (Associated Press, 10/26/15)

  • This highlights the story of Myrna Suren, soon to be released after 25 years in prison, and describes the challenges for thousands of inmates returning to the community. These individuals are often in need of a broad-array of services, including mental health counseling. Read the article here.

20% Of Inmates Spent Time In Restricted Housing (The Crime Report, 10/23/15)

  • Almost 20 percent of inmates in federal prisons and 18 percent of inmates in local jails spent time in restrictive housing, such as solitary confinement, in 2011 and 2012, the Bureau of Justice Statistics announced today. A significant portion of the inmates who had been placed in restrictive housing within the last year (nearly 30 percent of the prison inmates and 22 percent of the jail inmates) had symptoms of serious psychological distress. Read the article 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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