The Council of State Governments Justice Center announced today the availability of detailed, web-based profiles for approximately 150 mental health courts and 100 specialized police-based responses to people with mental illnesses. The last survey of mental health courts, conducted in 2005, counted approximately 125 mental health courts. The inventory of police-based responses to people with mental illness is the first of its kind.
The program profiles are part of the Criminal Justice/Mental Health Information Network (InfoNet), a free web-based database that inventories collaborative criminal justice/mental health programs across the country. The profiles are drawn from information obtained through comprehensive surveys, developed with assistance from the National GAINS Center, NAMI, and the Police Executive Research Forum.
“The expansion of mental health courts, crisis intervention teams, and other law enforcement responses to individuals with mental illness is an exciting development,” remarked Domingo S. Herraiz, Director of the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), U.S. Department of Justice, which administers the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program, providing funding and technical assistance to nearly 40 mental health courts in recent years. “Just 10 years ago, there were only four known mental health courts. One of the most important ways BJA assists communities is by designing and administering these new grant programs that encourage the field to talk to-and learn from-each other.”
The InfoNet also catalogs news articles and research written about criminal justice/mental health issues. Profiles of state legislation, advocacy efforts, and statewide efforts to coordinate comprehensive responses to people with mental illness involved in the justice system are under development. Surveys of jail and prison re-entry programs and efforts that focus on probation and parole initiatives will also be developed.
Morris Thigpen, director of the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), U.S. Department of Justice, added, “Reversing high rates of recidivism among people with mental illnesses released from jails and prisons requires a comprehensive strategy that focuses on more than what happens while someone is incarcerated, but what happens from arrest through a person’s transition to the community. We’re excited about the InfoNet because it profiles programs across the criminal justice continuum.”
“The InfoNet shows that community-based innovation continues to lead the way in helping people with mental illness involved in the justice system attain and sustain recovery,” said SAMHSA Administrator Terry Cline. “The InfoNet, together with SAMHSA’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices, provides real life examples of strategies that work to keep people in their community as contributing members.”
The InfoNet is accessible through the Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project website (coordinated by the Justice Center), and is also available directly by clicking here. If you do not see your mental health court or specialized police-based program listed in the InfoNet, please click here to complete a survey. For more information about the InfoNet project, the issues, and to learn how to use the InfoNet, visit click here.