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Jails and prisons in the U.S. face serious challenges in addressing the needs of people with mental illness who are incarcerated. Facilities are not therapeutic environments and can often exacerbate symptoms. As people with mental illness continue to be incarcerated at high rates, corrections professionals should have the tools and resources to meet the needs of people with mental illness.
The Correctional Officers De-escalation Education (CODE) project is a resource to help train officers working in jails and prisons, on how to respond to challenges they face when working with people with mental illness who are incarcerated, including: effective communication, skillful intervention and monitoring guidelines and successful de-escalation strategies.
Increased knowledge and awareness about mental illness can help equip correctional officers with information and skills to better assist people with mental illness who are in their facilities, making them more effective in their work and their job less stressful.
It provides a training film with real-life scenarios and a detailed facilitator’s guide.
The film features inmates sharing their stories of living with mental illness in prison, correctional officers’ experiences working with inmates and scenarios on common interactions.
NAMI Presents CODE: Correction Officer De-escalation Film 67 minutes
The guide provides information for facilitators, including how to prepare for the training, suggested talking points, group discussion questions and more.
This training can be used at multiple points within a correctional officer’s career:
CODE was developed and sponsored by NAMI Tennessee in cooperation with the Tennessee Department of Corrections and the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. CODE was funded in part by grants from the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and Janssen Pharmaceuticals.
CODE (The Movie) was produced and directed by Dixie Gamble and includes:
The CODE: Facilitator’s Film Screening Guide was created by NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, with the help and support of:
Guide Author: Jessica Tornabene, Senior Manager, Justice Diversion Task Force, NAMI