When a person’s been arrested 14 times, most people would assume that he or she is a hardened criminal. Not necessarily so. For the Shelby County, Tenn., jail diversion program The Jericho Project, this is just an average client. The Jericho Project provides an alternative to jail for people with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse who have been arrested and charged with a crime.
In the summer of 2007, Deputy Commissioner Emmitt Sparkman of the Mississippi Department of Corrections did what no one had done before. He tried emptying solitary cells, rather than filling them up, as a strategy to reduce prison violence. His experiment worked, catapulting Mississippi into the unexpected role of U.S. leader in state prison reform.
On a given day in Florida, more than 70,000 people with mental illness are under correctional supervision. Until recently, judges and attorneys working with these individuals had few training opportunities or information about mental illness. Florida Partners in Crisis (FLPIC), an organization that brings together criminal justice leaders, mental health and substance abuse service providers and advocates, is changing that.
When an individual living with mental illness is arrested, often his or her only advocate in the justice system is the public defender. NAMI’s new resource helps individuals and families understand the role of the public defender and answers common questions about how family members can work with public defenders more effectively.
Rates of solitary confinement in U.S. prisons are higher than ever. This inhumane practice involves restricting inmates to small cells without windows and cutting them off from human contact for weeks, months or even years at a time. Check out NAMI’s new fact sheet to understand how this practice hurts people with mental illness--and fails to reduce violence or improve order in prisons.
NAMI has developed a sample brochure for NAMI Affiliates to use in promoting CIT. The brochure is editable, so communities can include local information. Download the brochure from NAMI’s CIT Advocacy Toolkit website, adapt it to your needs and print on an office printer.
Kathy Harkey, program director at NAMI Central Virginia was awarded the 2012 CIT Advocate of the Year Award at this year’s CIT International Conference. Kathy was honored for her dedication to the Henrico County CIT program. Chief Douglas Middleton of the Henrico Police Department received the CIT Police Chief of the Year Award. For details, check out NAMI Central Virginia’s press release.
NAMI’s You Are Not Alone campaign is putting a face on mental illness by sharing videos and stories about the challenges and triumphs of mental illness. Share your story, spread the word by Facebook and Twitter or donate at www.nami.org/notalone.
Plan now to celebrate the 25th anniversary of CIT! Save the date for CIT International’s next conference, coming to Hartford, Conn., Oct. 14-16, 2013. Visit the conference website for more information.
A new report by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) explores trends in juvenile justice state legislation over the past decade. Almost 70 percent of youth in the juvenile justice system have a mental health condition; the new report highlights the efforts of states to respond to these needs.
The resource provides a summary of services proven effective in meeting the needs of people with mental health and substance abuse conditions who are involved in the justice system. SAMHSA’s Gains Center and the Council of State Governments Justice Center released A Checklist for Implementing Evidence-Based Practices and Programs for Justice-Involved Adults with Behavioral Health Disorders. The checklist is designed to help service providers select and implement the right services for this population.
The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center has released a report for policymakers, administrators, and service providers committed to improving outcomes for the large number of adults with mental health and substance use disorders that cycle through the criminal justice system. Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery introduces a framework for prioritizing scarce resources based on assessments of individuals’ risk of committing a future crime and their treatment and support needs.