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August 2, 2002

Department of Justice Announces Availability of Funds for Mental Health Courts

The Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the availability of $4 million to fund Mental Health Court programs. The Federal Mental Health Courts program was created with enactment of "America's Law Enforcement and Mental Health Project" (Public Law 106-515), sponsored by Congressman Ted Strickland (D-OH) in the House of Representatives and Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH) and Pete Domenici (R-NM) in the Senate.

Who May Apply For Federal Mental Health Courts Grants?

States, state courts, local courts, units of local government (counties, municipalities), and tribal governments may apply for funding under the Mental Health Courts initiative.

When Are Mental Health Courts Grant Applications Due?

Proposals for Mental Health Courts grants must be postmarked or received no later than September 13, 2002.

How Can Mental Health Courts Funds Be Used?

The funds can be used for the operation of proposed Mental Health Courts, including contracts and professional services, training, supplies needed for the proposed program (including the development of treatment services), salaries and fringe benefits, contracts and professional services, and equipment.

Is There A Local Matching Requirement?

Yes. The federal share of the grant may not exceed 75% of the program's total costs. The grantee must provide a match that is at minimum 25% of the program's total costs. The match may be cash, in-kind, or a combination of both.

How many grants will be awarded?

Up to 20 demonstration projects may be awarded, with a maximum award of $150,000 per project for a grant period of up to 24 months.

Funding 20 projects at the maximum award rate of $150,000 per project equals $3 million. How will the remaining $1 million be used?

Presumably, the remaining $1 million will be used for training, technical assistance and evaluation.

What Is The Procedure For Applying?

The BJA Mental Health Courts solicitation uses an abbreviated proposal process. This means that applicants will not be required to submit the standard forms generally required by grant solicitations. Instead, applicants must submit a project narrative describing the proposed program. The narrative should be an overview (not to exceed 10 pages) that includes only as much detail as is necessary to understand how the proposed program will work. Details about what should be included in the narrative can be found at the BJA's Web site.

Who Is Eligible To Be Served By Mental Health Courts Funded Through This Program?

Individuals with mental illness, mental retardation, and co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders charged with misdemeanors or nonviolent offenses.

What Are Program Requirements For Mental Health Courts?

The purpose of the BJA's solicitation is to fund MH Court demonstration projects that "mobilize communities to implement innovative, collaborative efforts to bring systemwide improvements in the way they address adults offenders with mental disabilities or mental illnesses." At a minimum, proposed projects must include:

  • Continuing judicial supervision, including periodic review, of eligible individuals;
  • Voluntary outpatient or inpatient mental health treatment, in the least restrictive manner appropriate, as determined by the Court.
  • Centralized case management involving the consolidation of all cases and the coordination of mental health and substance abuse treatment plans and social services.
  • Continuing supervision of treatment plan participants for a term not to exceed the maximum allowable sentence or probation for the charged or relevant offense.
  • Specialized training of criminal justice personnel to identify and address the unique needs of offenders with mental illness or mental retardation.

How Can I Find More Information?

See the Mental Health Courts Competitive Grants Announcement for more information.

Comprehensive descriptions of existing Mental Health Courts in four jurisdictions (Broward County, Fl; King County, Wa; San Bernardino, Ca; and Anchorage, Ak.) can be found in BJA's report entitled Emerging Judicial Strategies for the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Caseload.

For information and questions about this E-News, email Ron Honberg in the NAMI Office or call 703-524-7600, ext. 7972.

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