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Council of State Governments - Criminal Justice Mental Health Consensus Project, 2002

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police chiefs | consumers | pretrial service
administrators | probation officials | state legislators |
substance abuse providers | state corrections directors |
judges | district attorneys | families | parole board
members | county executives | public defenders | crime
victims | state corrections directors | prosecutors | mental health
advocates | court administrators | mental health providers | researchers
| jail administrators | sheriffs | correctional mental health providers |
state mental health directors | victim advocates | parole officials

Criminal Justice / Mental Health
Consensus Project

Criminal Justice / Mental Health
Consensus Project

Coordinated by

Council of State Governments
Project Partners

Association of State Correctional Administrators (ASCA)
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law
Center for Behavioral Health, Justice & Public Policy
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD)
Police Executive Research Forum (PERF)
Pretrial Services Resource Center (PSRC)

June 2002

Copyright © 2002
Council of State Governments
EASTERN OFFICE
Before October 1, 2002

After October 1, 2002

Council of State Governments / Eastern Regional Conference
233 Broadway, 22nd Floor
New York, NY 10279
Phone: (212) 912-0128
Fax: (212) 912-0549
Web site: www.csgeast.org

Council of State Governments / Eastern Regional Conference
170 Broadway
18th Floor
New York, NY 10038
Phone: (212) 912-0128
Fax: (212) 912-0549
Web site: www.csgeast.org

NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS

Council of State Governments
2760 Research Park Drive
P.O. Box 11910
Lexington, Kentucky 40578
Phone: (859) 244-8000
Fax: (859) 244-8001
Web site: www.csg.org
ISBN#: 0-87292-896-9
Designed by David Williams
This report was prepared by the Council of State Governments in
collaboration with the Association of State Correctional Administrators, the
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the Center for Behavioral Health,
Justice & Public Policy, the National Association of State Mental Health
Program Directors, the Police Executive Research Forum, and the Pretrial
Services Resource Center.
The Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project was supported by
grant number 2002-DD-BX-0002, awarded by the Office of Justice
Programs, U.S. Department of Justice and grant number 01 M008529-01D, awarded by the Center for Mental Health Services, Substance Abuse
and Mental Health Services Administration, U.S. Department of Health and
Human Services. The Consensus Project also received support from the
van Ameringen Foundation, the Melville Charitable Trust, the Robert Wood
Johnson Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, and the Open Society
Institute, and Pfizer, Inc. and Eli Lilly, Inc.
Points of view, recommendations, or findings stated in this document are
those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position
or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, the other project supporters, or the advisory
board members who provided input into this document.

ii

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Preface
The Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus

Following two meetings of a focus group compris-

Project is an unprecedented national, two-year effort to

ing various criminal justice and mental health stake-

prepare specific recommendations that local, state, and

holders in 1999, project partners established four advi-

federal policymakers, and criminal justice and mental

sory boards. Collectively, these advisory groups included

health professionals can use to improve the criminal jus-

more than 100 leading state lawmakers, police chiefs,

tice system’s response to people with mental illness.

officers, sheriffs, district attorneys, public defenders,

The goal of this project has been to elicit ideas from

judges, court administrators, state corrections directors,

some of the most respected criminal justice and mental

community corrections officials, victim advocates, con-

health practitioners in the United States, to develop rec-

sumers, family members and other mental health advo-

ommendations that reflect a consensus among seemingly

cates, county commissioners, state mental health direc-

opposing viewpoints, and to disseminate these findings

tors, behavioral health care providers, substance abuse

widely so they can make the greatest possible impact on

experts, and clinicians. A complete list of advisory board

a national problem that affects every community.

members appears on the following pages. In addition to

Throughout the project, every effort has been made to

the insights of these experts, the project benefited from

provide concrete, practical approaches that can be tai-

surveys and document reviews that project partners con-

lored to the unique needs of each community.

ducted to identify relevant efforts from the field.

The Council of State Governments (CSG)—in part-

The policy statements, recommendations for imple-

nership with the Police Executive Research Forum, the

mentation, and program examples described in this re-

Pretrial Services Resource Center, the Association of

port are important products of the Consensus Project.

State Correctional Administrators, and the National

The true value of this initiative, however, will be the

Association of State Mental Health Program Directors—

extent to which policymakers replicate in their jurisdic-

coordinated this project. The Bazelon Center for Mental

tions the substantive bipartisan, cross-system dialogue

Health Law and the Center for Behavioral Health, Jus-

that this project has fostered, and the extent to which

tice & Public Policy provided CSG with extensive and

agents of change—whether elected officials, criminal jus-

valuable assistance. Together, representatives of these

tice and mental health professionals, or community lead-

seven organizations made up the Steering Committee

ers—implement the practical, specific suggestions con-

for this project.

tained in this document.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

iii

Contents
Acknowledgements ........................ vi

PART ONE

Law Enforcement
Advisory Board ..................... xiii

Select Events on the
Criminal Justice Continuum

22

Courts Advisory Board ................... ix
Corrections Advisory Board ............ x
Mental Health Advisory Board ...... xi
Executive Summary ...................... xii

Introduction ............................... 2
The Problem .................................. 4
Reasons for Hope .......................... 9
How to Use this Report ............... 10
Getting Started ........................... 13
Next Steps ................................... 21

CHAPTER I

Involvement with the Mental Health System... 26
Policy Statement
1.

Involvement with the Mental Health System ................................... 28

CHAPTER II

Contact with Law Enforcement ........................ 34
Policy Statements
2.

Request for Police Service ................................................................. 36

3.

On-Scene Assessment ....................................................................... 40

4.

On-Scene Response .......................................................................... 50

5.

Incident Documentation ................................................................... 64

6.

Police Response Evaluation ............................................................... 68

CHAPTER III

Pretrial Issues, Adjudication, and Sentencing

72

Policy Statements
7.

Appointment of Counsel .................................................................... 74

8.

Consultation with Victim .................................................................... 78

9.

Prosecutorial Review of Charges

10.

Modification of Pretrial Diversion Conditions ................................. 86

11.

Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing .................................................. 90

12.

Modification of Pretrial Release Conditions .................................... 98

13.

Intake at County/Municipal Detention Facility .............................. 102

14.

Adjudication ...................................................................................... 112

15.

Sentencing ......................................................................................... 116

16.

Modification of Conditions of Probation/Supervised Release .... 120

................................................. 82

CHAPTER IV

Incarceration and Reentry ............................... 126
Policy Statements

iv

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

17.

Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates .................................. 128

18.

Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs,
and Classification/Housing Decisions ........................................... 136

19.

Subsequent Referral for
Screening and Mental Health Evaluations ..................................... 152

20.

Release Decision ............................................................................... 154

21.

Development of Transition Plan .................................................... 162

22.

Modification of Conditions of Supervised Release ....................... 172

23.

Maintaining Contact Between Individual and
Mental Health System ...................................................................... 180

PART TWO

Overarching Themes

184

Appendices ....................... 304

CHAPTER V

A.

Glossary ............................... 306

Improving Collaboration .................................. 188

B.

Program Examples
Cited in Report .................... 316

C.

An Explanation of
Federal Medicaid and
Disability Program Rules .... 400

D.

Project History/
Methodology ........................ 406

E.

Steering Committee ............ 410

F.

Bibliography ........................ 414

Policy Statements
24.

Obtaining and Sharing Resources ................................................... 190

25.

Sharing Information ......................................................................... 194

26.

Institutionalizing the Partnership ................................................... 200

CHAPTER VI

Training Practitioners and Policymakers
and Educating the Community ........................ 204
Policy Statements
27.

Determining Training Goals and Objectives ................................... 208

28.

Training for Law Enforcement Personnel ....................................... 212

29.

Training for Court Personnel ........................................................... 220

30.

Training for Corrections Personnel ................................................. 226

31.

Training for Mental Health Professionals ....................................... 232

32.

Educating the Community and Building Community Awareness

33.

Identifying Trainers .......................................................................... 240

34.

Evaluating Training

Index.................................. 422

236

..................................................................... 244

CHAPTER VII

Elements of an Effective
Mental Health System ..................................... 246
Policy Statements
35.

Evidence-Based Practices

.......................................................... 250

36.

Integration of Services .................................................................... 256

37.

Co-Occurring Disorders .................................................................... 260

38.

Housing ............................................................................................. 264

39.

Consumer and Family Member Involvement .................................. 272

40.

Cultural Competency ........................................................................ 276

41.

Workforce ........................................................................................... 280

42.

Accountability ................................................................................... 284

43.

Advocacy ........................................................................................... 288

CHAPTER VIII

Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes ............ 290
Policy Statements
44.

Identifying Outcome Measures ........................................................ 292

45.

Collecting Data .................................................................................. 298

46.

Disseminating Findings ................................................................... 302

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

v

Acknowledgments
So many people and organizations made the Crimi-

mental illness. And George Vose and John Blackmore of

nal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project possible.

ASCA made sure the Steering Committee never lost sight

Although it is not feasible to recognize each of these con-

of the realities that confront corrections and community

tributions individually, the Council of State Governments

corrections practitioners—a primary target audience for

(CSG) staff would like to highlight the special roles of

the report.

several people involved in this two-year initiative.

CSG and the project partners are enormously in-

First, CSG staff would like to thank the co-chairs

debted to the members of the law enforcement, courts,

of the project, Senator Robert Thompson of Pennsylva-

corrections, and mental health advisory boards, who are

nia and Representative Michael Lawlor of Connecticut.

listed earlier in this report. They each volunteered, over

They initiated this effort, and they provided the leader-

the course of just 18 months, hundreds of hours from their

ship to realize a vision of bipartisan consensus around

extremely busy schedules. Reviewing draft after draft of

issues that initially seemed to many as hopelessly com-

the report and crisscrossing the country for meetings, they

plex and controversial. Perhaps most importantly,

contributed expertise, ideas, and suggestions about how

through changes to policy in their respective states, they

to improve the response to people with mental illness

demonstrated how elected officials can use the report to

who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

effect real, systemic change.

Although not individually endorsed, the recommenda-

The project partners that made up the Steering
Committee have been the core strength of the Criminal

tions and policy statements are based on their visions
for better criminal justice and mental health systems.

Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project. CSG staff

No one person in the country knows more about

are immensely grateful to the staff of these organiza-

mental illness, co-occurring substance abuse disorders,

tions: the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF);

and the criminal justice system than Hank Steadman of

Association of State Corrections Administrators (ASCA);

the GAINS Center. His careful review of early drafts of

the Pretrial Services Resource Center (PSRC); the Na-

this report, and his thoughtful comments about how to

tional Association of State Mental Health Program Di-

make it better, improved the Consensus Project report

rectors (NASMHPD); the Bazelon Center for Mental

dramatically.

Health Law; and the Center for Behavioral Health, Justice, and Public Policy.

An initiative of the scope and complexity of the
Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project

At PERF, Martha Plotkin and Melissa Reuland’s

never gets past the concept phase without considerable

experience with similar projects and reports always pro-

funding support. Indeed, a large, diverse group of fed-

vided the group with a bedrock of strategic expertise.

eral and private grantmakers made this project possible.

Under Bob Glover’s stalwart leadership at NASMHPD,

Officials from the Office of Justice Programs in the U.S.

Bill Emmet incorporated the diverse and passionate per-

Department of Justice (specifically the Bureau of Jus-

spectives of the mental health community into the re-

tice Assistance, the Corrections Program Office, and the

port so deftly that many in the project almost forgot what

Office of Victims of Crime) and the Center for Mental

an impossible assignment he had been handed. Fred

Health Services in the Substance Abuse and Mental

Osher patiently educated the group about mental illness,

Health Services Administration of the U.S. Department

the complexities of the mental health system, and the

of Health and Human Services demonstrated how the

state of mental health research, and everyone always

federal government can effectively partner with

enjoyed learning from him. Alan Henry and John Clark

policymakers at the state and local levels. Program of-

of PSRC accomplished a feat essential to the credibility

ficers from nearly a half-dozen private foundations—the

of the project, maintaining the confidence of perennial

van Ameringen Foundation, the Melville Charitable

adversaries—prosecutors and defense attorneys—in the

Trust, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the

project’s process and the final report. Chris Koyanagi

MacArthur Foundation, and the Open Society Institute—

consistently (but always constructively) challenged the

took a significant risk at the early stage of this project;

group to make the report one that respected people with

their investments and votes of confidence made it pos-

vi

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

sible for federal agencies to provide the resources to complete the initiative. CSG staff also thank Pfizer, Inc.
and Eli Lilly, Inc. for their support of the Consensus
Project.
CSG staff are grateful to Dan Sprague, the Executive Director of CSG, John Mountjoy, CSG’s Chief Policy
Analyst, and the Justice and Public Safety Task Force,
for allowing and supporting a regional office to coordinate a national initiative.
CSG staff would also like to give special thanks to
Alan Sokolow, the director of the Eastern Office of CSG.
From the beginning—when it was not at all apparent
that federal agencies and private foundations would provide funding support to offset many (but far from all) of
the expenses that the project incurred—he put the resources of the office behind the initiative. And in the
immediate aftermath of the destruction of CSG’s office
in the World Trade Center, Alan made temporary office
space and other resources available to ensure that the
project would continue without any disruption. That commitment to the project, and the faith he showed in his
staff, was extraordinary and cannot be overstated.
Finally, CSG staff and the project partners thank
the many criminal justice and mental health professionals who work daily to provide a better quality of life to
people in their communities. It is for them that this report has been written. Their commitment to providing
the best possible services to people with mental illness
will save us from the enormous costs—in human lives
and community resources—we all assume when their
needs are not met.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

vii

Law Enforcement Advisory Board
Sheriff John Wesley Anderson

El Paso County, CO1

Senator Ginny Burdick

Chair
Joint Interim Judiciary Committee, OR3
Steve Chaney

Commander of Professional
Development Unit
State Police, MD2,3
Sheriff Dan L. Corsentino

Pueblo County Sheriff’s Department,
CO2,3
Captain Gary E. Cox

West Jordan Police Department, UT1,2,3
Jacqueline Feldman

Director of Public Psychiatry
University of Alabama at Birmingham,
AL1
Helen Geyso

Alliance for the Mentally Ill, WI1,2,3
Sheldon Greenberg

Director, Police Executive Leadership
Program
Johns Hopkins University, MD1,3
Senator Cal Hobson

Vice-Chair
Appropriations Committee, OK1
Barry S. Kast

Associate Director, Health Services
Department of Human Services, OR3
Tom Lane

Officer Joan M. Logan

Coordinator, Crisis Intervention Team
Montgomery County Police Department,
MD2,3
Daniel Malloy

Mayor
Stamford, CT1

State Police, MD1
Mark Spurrier

Director, Office for Law Enforcement
NOAA, MD1
Representative John E. Tholl, Jr.

Gary J. Margolis

Chief/Director of Police Services
The University of Vermont Police
Services, VT1,3
Jacki McKinney

National People of Colour Consumer/
Survivior Network, PA3
Chief Bernard Melekian

Pasadena Police Department, CA2,3
Chief Charles A. Moose

Vice-Chair
Criminal Justice and Public Safety
Committee, NH 3
Senator Robert J. Thompson

Chair, Appropriations Committee, PA1,2,3
Nancy Turner

Project Coordinator
International Association of Chiefs of
Police,1,2,3
Chief Mary Ann Viverette

Gaithersburg Police Department, MD1,2

Montgomery County Police Department,
MD2,3
Chief Robert Olson

Minneapolis Police Department, MN1,2,3
Charles Ray

President and CEO
National Council for Community
Behavioral Healthcare1
Erik Roskes

Director, Forensic Treatment
Springfield Hospital Center, MD2,3
Michael Ryan

Staff Attorney, Mental Health Division
Public Defender Service, DC2,3

Director, Forest Park Drop In Center
The Peer Center & Atlantic Shores
Healthcare at South Florida State
Hospital, FL3

Mike Schappell

Tom Liebfried

Risdon Slate

Vice President of Government Relations
National Council for Community
Behavioral Healthcare2

Lt. Colonel Cynthia Smith

Clinical Coordinator
Department of Health and Human
Services, MD2
Associate Professor of Criminology
Florida Southern College, FL2,3

1. denotes attendance at the first advisory board meeting

3. denotes attendance at the third advisory board meeting

2. denotes attendance at the second advisory board meeting

See Appendix D: Project History / Methodology for further explanation of advisory boards.

viii

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Courts Advisory Board
Yves Ades

Director, Mental Health Programs
Center for Alternative Sentencing and
Employment Services, NY1,3

Hon. Larry Gist

Wendy Niehaus

Superior Court District Judge,
Beaumont, TX1

Director
Hamilton County Pretrial Services
Cincinnati, OH2

Hon. Dennis Graves

Hon. Pamela G. Alexander

Hennepin County District Court, MN1

Circuit Court of Oregon for the County
of Marion, OR2

Richard Baker

James J. Gregart

Superintendent
Anne Arundel Department of Detention
Facilities, MD1,3

Kalamazoo County Prosecuting
Attorney, MI1, 3

Robert Boruchowitz

Court Administrator
Superior Court, AZ1, 3

Executive Director
Seattle-King County Public Defender’s
Association, WA2
Sandra Cannon

Chief of the Office of Forensic Services
Department of Mental Health, OH2
William B. Church, III

Public Defender’s Office
Hamilton County, OH2
Howard Conyers

Administrator for the Courts, OK3
Brian Coopper

Director
Center for Behavioral Health, Justice &
Public Policy, MD1,2,3
Senator Kathleen K. Parker

Tom D. Henderson

Director, Violent Crime Prosecution Unit
Shelby County District Attorney’s
Office, TN2
Ron Honberg

Director of Legal Affairs
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill3
Representative Michael Lawlor
1,3

Representative Thomas Little

Senior Director of Consumer Advocacy
National Mental Health Association3

Chair
House Judiciary Committee, VT1

Robert Donohoo

Michael D. Marino

Assistant District Attorney
Milwaukee County District Attorney’s
Office, WI2

Chairman, County Commissioners
Montgomery County, PA1,3

Hon. William Dressel

Superior Court Judge
San Francisco County, CA2

President
The National Judicial College3
John DuPree

Assistant Court Administrator
7th Judicial Circuit, FL1
Representative Michael E. Festa

MA3
W. Lawrence Fitch

Director of Forensic Services
Mental Hygiene Administration, MD3

Program Officer, Substance Abuse
The Health Foundation of Greater
Cincinnati, OH2,3
Tammy Seltzer

Staff Attorney
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law1,3
Senator Nancy P. Thompson

NE1,3

Jo-Ann Wallace

Director
National Legal Aid & Defender
Association1,3
Billy Wasson

Victim Advocate, NY1,3

District Attorney
Milwaukee County, WI1,3

Honorable John West

Chief Executive Officer
Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral
Health Authority, AZ3
Assistant Public Defender
Broward County, FL2

Ann B. Perrin

Kim Webdale

Hon. E. Michael McCann

Brian Mock

Chair
Mental Health Evaluation Task Force, IL3

Probation Consultant
Juneau Court, OR1

Hon. Tomar Mason

Maurice Miller

Public Defender
Monroe County, NY1,3
Fred C. Osher

Gordon Griller

Co-Chair
Joint Judiciary Committee, CT

Edward Nowak

Judge
Hamilton County Common Pleas Court,
OH2,3
Carl Wicklund

Executive Director
American Probation and Parole
Association2,3
Howard Zonana

Professor, Department of Psychiatry
Yale University, CT2
1. denotes attendance at the first advisory board meeting

3. denotes attendance at the third advisory board meeting

2. denotes attendance at the peer group meeting

See Appendix D: Project History / Methodology for further explanation of advisory boards.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

ix

Corrections Advisory Board
B. Jaye Anno

Consultant
Consultants and Correctional Health1,3
Assemblyman Jeffrion L. Aubry

Chair
Corrections Committee, NY2,3
Senator Linda Berglin

Chair
Health, Human Services, and
Corrections
Budget Division, MN3

Dee Kifowit

Director
Texas Council on Offenders with Mental
Impairments, TX2
Senator Jeanine Long

Ranking Member
Human Services and Corrections
Committee, WA1
Senator Michael J. McAlevey

Chair
Criminal Justice Committee, ME3

Collie Brown

Hunter McQuistion

Senior Director of Justice Programs
National Mental Health Association1,2

Medical Director
Project Renewal, NY1,2,3

John H. Clark

Andrew Molloy

Chief Medical Officer
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Office,
CA1,3

Criminal Justice Program Analyst
Department of Criminal Justice
Services, VA1,2,3

Senator Robert E. Dvorsky

Kenneth A. Ray

IA3

Gary Field

Administrator, Counseling and
Treatment Services
Department of Corrections, OR3
Joan Gillece

Director, Division of Special
Populations
Department of Health and Mental
Hygiene, Mental Hygiene
Administration, MD1,3
Ellen Halbert

Director, Victim Witness Division
District Attorney’s Office
Travis County, TX1,3
Ruth Hughes

Executive Director
International Association of
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services3

Director
Department of Corrections and
Security, Yakima County, WA2

Senator Maggie Tinsman

IA1

Charles Traughber

Chair
Parole Board, TN1,2,3

Cecelia Vergaretti

Vice President, Community Services &
Advocacy
National Mental Health Association3
Arthur Wallenstein

Director
Department of Corrections,
Montgomery County, MD1,3
Carl Wicklund

Executive Director
American Probation and Parole
Association1,2
Reginald A. Wilkinson

Director
Dept. of Rehabilitation and Correction,
OH3

Wayne Scott

Executive Director
Department of Criminal Justice, TX1,2
William W. Sondervan

Commissioner
Division of Correction, MD1,2,3
John R. Staup

Executive Director
Butler County Mental Health Board, OH3
Altha Stewart

Executive Director
Community Mental Health Agency,
Wayne County, MI 1,3
James L. Stone

Commissioner
Office of Mental Health, NY1,2,3

1. denotes attendance at the first advisory board meeting

3. denotes attendance at the third advisory board meeting

2. denotes attendance at the second advisory board meeting

See Appendix D: Project History / Methodology for further explanation of advisory boards.

x

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Mental Health Advisory Board
Yves Ades

Director, Mental Health Programs
Center for Alternative Sentencing and
Employment Services, NY1,3
Dolly Allison

Director, South Central Programs
Portals Mental Health Rehabilitation
Services, CA1
B. Jaye Anno

Consultant
Consultants and Correctional Health,
NM1,3
Senator Linda Berglin

Chair
Health, Human Services and
Corrections Budget Division, MN3
Collie Brown

Senior Director of Justice Programs
National Mental Health Association1
Senator Catherine W. Cook

Ron Honberg

Senator Kathleen K. Parker

Ruth Hughes

Ann B. Perrin

Barry S. Kast

Tammy Seltzer

Director of Legal Affairs
National Alliance for the Mentally Ill1, 3
Executive Director
International Association of
Psychosocial Rehabilitation Services1, 3
Associate Director
Health Services, Department of Human
Services, OR1, 3
Chris Koyanagi

Director of Government Affairs
The Bazelon Center for Mental Health
Law1, 3
Tom Lane

Director
The Peer Center & Atlantic Shores
Healthcare at
South Florida State Hospital2,3

Chief Deputy Minority Leader, CT3

Tom Liebfried

Brian Coopper

Vice President of Government Relations
National Council for Community
Behavioral Healthcare1

Senior Director of Consumer Advocacy
National Mental Health Association,
VA1,3
Toby Ewing

Project Manager
Little Hoover Commission, CA2
Jacqueline Feldman

Director of Public Psychiatry
University of Alabama at Birmingham1
W. Lawrence Fitch

Director of Forensic Services
Mental Hygiene Administration, MD1,3
Helen Geyso

Wisconsin Alliance for the Mentally Ill,
MD1, 2, 3
Joan Gillece

Assistant Director
Mental Hygiene Administration, MD1,2, 3

Jacki McKinney

National People of Colour
Consumer/Survivor Network, PA2,3
Steve Mayberg

Director
Department of Mental Health, CA2
Hunter McQuistion

Medical Director
Project Renewal, Inc., NY1

Chair
Mental Health Evaluation Task Force, IL1
Program Officer, Substance Abuse
The Health Foundation of Greater
Cincinnati3
Staff Attorney
Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law3
Deborah Spungen

Speaker, Trainer, Author, and
Researcher
Anti-Violence Partnership, PA1
John R. Staup

Executive Director
Butler County Mental Health Board, OH3
Henry J. Steadman

President
Policy Research Associates, NY1
Altha Stewart

Executive Director
Wayne County Community Mental
Health Agency, MI1,3
Pamela Stokes

Research Analyst
National Association of State Alcohol
and Drug Abuse Directors2
Commissioner James L. Stone

New York State Office of Mental Health,
NY1,3
Cecelia Vergaretti

Maurice Miller

Chief Executive Officer
Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral
Health Authority, AZ3

Vice President
Community Services & Advocacy
National Mental Health Association3
Paul Weaver

Office of Consumer Advocacy, KY1

Fred C. Osher

Director
Center for Behavioral Health, Justice &
Public Policy MD1,2,3

1. denotes attendance at the first advisory board meeting

3. denotes attendance at the third advisory board meeting

2. denotes attendance at the peer group meeting

See Appendix D: Project History / Methodology for further explanation of advisory boards.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

xi

Executive Summary

Executive Summary
I

THE PROBLEM

Impact on People and Systems
People with mental illness are falling through the cracks of this country’s
social safety net and are landing in the criminal justice system at an alarming
rate. Each year, ten million people are booked into U.S. jails; studies indicate
that rates of serious mental illness among these individuals are at least three
to four times higher than the rates of serious mental illness in the general
population.
Because of sensational headlines and high-profile incidents, many members of the public and some policymakers assume, incorrectly, that the vast
majority of people who are in prison or jail and have a mental illness have
committed serious, violent crimes. In fact, a large number of people with mental illness in prison (and especially in jail) have been incarcerated because they
displayed in public the symptoms of untreated mental illness. Experiencing
delusions, immobilized by depression, or suffering other consequences of inadequate treatment, many of these individuals have struggled, at times heroically, to fend off symptoms of mental illness. Providers in the mental health
system have been either too overwhelmed or too frustrated to help some of
these individuals, who typically have a history of being denied treatment or
refusing it altogether.
Whereas some of these individuals have no family, others have exhausted
the resources or the patience (and often both) of their loved ones. Often, family
members, fearful for their safety or because they are simply out of options, ask
the police to intervene. In other cases, concerned members of the community
alert law enforcement about situations such as these: a woman shouting obscenities at shoppers on Main Street; an unkempt man in the park making
threatening gestures and urinating in public. Many times, police officers on
their patrols encounter individuals with mental illness in various states of public intoxication. These are individuals who have attempted to self-medicate
using alcohol or any illegal substance they could obtain.
There are also cases in which a person with a mental illness commits a
serious, violent crime, making his or her incarceration necessary and appropriate. Still, almost all of these individuals will reenter the community, and the
justice system has the legal obligation (and the obligation to the public) to prepare these individuals for a safe and successful transition to the community.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Given the dimensions and complexity of this issue, the demands upon the
criminal justice system to respond to this problem are overwhelming. Police
departments dedicate thousands of hours each year transporting people with
mental illness to hospitals and community mental health centers where staff
often have to turn away the individual or quickly return him or her to the streets.
Jails and prisons are swollen with people suffering some form of mental illness;
on any given day, the Los Angeles County Jail holds more people with mental
illness than any state hospital or mental health institution in the United States.
Most troubling about the criminal justice system’s response in many communities to people with mental illness is the toll it exacts on people’s lives. Law
enforcement officers’ encounters with people with mental illness sometimes end
in violence, including the use of lethal force. Although rare, police shootings do
more than end the life of one individual. Such incidents also have a profound
impact on the consumer’s family, the police officer, and the general community.
When they are incarcerated, people with untreated mental illness are especially vulnerable to assault or other forms of intimidation by predatory inmates.
In prisons and jails, which tend to be environments that exacerbate the symptoms of mental illness, inmates with mental illness are at especial risk of harming themselves or others. Once they return to the community, people with
mental illness learn that providers already overwhelmed with clientele are sometimes reluctant to treat someone with a criminal record.

Origins of the Problem
The origins of the problem are complex and largely beyond the scope of
this report. During the last 35 years, the mental health system has undergone
tremendous change. Once based exclusively on institutional care and isolation,
the system has shifted its emphasis almost entirely to the provision of community-based support for individuals with mental illness. This public policy shift
has benefited millions of people, effecting the successful integration of many
people with active or past diagnoses of mental illness into the community. Many
clients of the mental health system, however, have difficulty obtaining access to
mental health services. Overlooked, turned away, or intimidated by the mental
health system, many individuals with mental illness end up disconnected from
community supports. The absence of affordable housing and the crisis in public
housing exacerbates the problem; most studies estimate that at least 20 to 25
percent of the single, adult homeless population have a serious mental illness.
Not surprisingly, officials in the criminal justice system have encountered
people with mental illness with increasing frequency. Calls for crackdowns on
quality-of-life crimes and offenses such as the possession of illegal substances
have netted many people with mental illness, especially those with co-occurring substance abuse disorders. Ill equipped to provide the comprehensive ar-

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

xiii

Executive Summary

ray of services that these individuals need, corrections administrators often
watch the health of people with mental illness deteriorate further, prompting
behavior and disciplinary infractions that only prolong their involvement in the
criminal justice system.

II
ABOUT THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE / MENTAL HEALTH
CONSENSUS PROJECT
The Criminal Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project is a unique effort
to define the measures that state legislators, law enforcement officials, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, corrections administrators, community corrections officials, and victim advocates, mental health advocates, consumers,
state mental health directors, and community-based providers agree will improve the response to people with mental illness who are in contact (or at high
risk of involvement) with the criminal justice system.
The target audience of the Consensus Project Report is those individuals
who can be characterized as agents of change: state policymakers who can
have a broad systemic impact on the problem and an array of practitioners and
advocates who can shape a community’s response to the problem. Legislators,
policymakers, practitioners, and advocates can champion the detailed recommendations in the report knowing that each has been developed and approved
by experts from an extraordinarily diverse range of perspectives who work in
and administer the department, agencies, and organizations trying every day
to address the needs of people with mental illness involved (or at risk of involvement with) the criminal justice system.
The Consensus Project Report addresses the entire criminal justice continuum, and it recognizes that actions taken by law enforcement, the courts, or
corrections have ramifications for the entire criminal justice system. The report also recognizes that people with mental illness who are involved with the
criminal justice system live in or return to communities, each of which has
distinct issues, challenges, assets, and potential solutions to enable people with
mental illness to avoid or minimize involvement with the criminal justice system.
The report provides 46 policy statements that can serve as a guide or prompt
an initiative to improve the criminal justice system’s response to people with
mental illness. Following each policy statement is a series of more specific
recommendations that highlight the practical steps that should be taken to
implement the policy. Woven into the discussion of each recommendation are
examples of programs, policies, or elements of state statutes that illustrate one
or more jurisdiction’s attempt to implement a particular policy statement. While

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

promising, many of these initiatives are so new that they have yet to be evaluated to certify their impact on individuals and systems. Still, they demonstrate
how partnerships and resourcefulness can be successfully replicated or tailored
to the unique needs of a variety of communities. These examples should also
help communities to build on the achievements without duplicating the failures or inefficiencies of others.
State and local government officials and community leaders can use these
policy statements, recommendations, and examples to get beyond discussing
the issue and to begin developing initiatives that will address the problem.

III.

CONSENSUS PROJECT POLICY STATEMENTS

The policy statements in the Consensus Project Report reflect that—from a
person’s first involvement with the mental health system to initial contact with
law enforcement, to pretrial issues, adjudication, and sentencing, to incarceration and re-entry—there are numerous opportunities for an agent of change to
focus his or her efforts to improve the response to people with mental illness
who come in contact with criminal justice system. These policy statements are
summarized in the chart below.
The first half of this chart corresponds to Part One of the report. These
policy statements explain the opportunities available to practitioners in the
criminal justice and mental health systems to identify a person who has a mental illness and to react in way that both recognizes the individual’s needs and
civil liberties and promotes public safety and accountability. In addition, these
policy statements summarize elements of programs and policies that would
enable law enforcement, court officials, corrections administrators, and mental
health providers to provide access to effective treatment and services and to
maintain the individual on a path toward recovery.
Policy statements describing the overarching themes (Part Two) of the report appear in the second half of the chart below. They reflect that the recipes
for implementing each of the policy statements in part one of the report call for
many of the same ingredients: collaboration, training, evaluations, and an effective mental health system.
The policy statements concerning collaboration recognize that neither the
criminal justice system nor the mental health system can, on its own, implement many of the recommendations in the report. For example, law enforcement officials need information about and access to mental health resources to
respond effectively to individuals with mental illness in the community. To
make informed decisions at pretrial hearings, adjudication, and sentencing,
court officials need some information about an individual’s mental illness. Cor-

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

xv

Executive Summary

rections and community corrections administrators should be able to tap a
clinician’s expertise when evaluating whether a person eligible for parole meets
the criteria for release.
The chapter regarding training calls for criminal justice practitioners to
become familiar with the signs and symptoms of mental illness, the appropriateness of various responses, and the resources and organization of their local
mental health system. Similarly, the implementation of many of the recommendations throughout the report depends on mental health clinicians and service providers who understand the criminal justice system and are willing to
look beyond the stigma associated with a criminal record.
Successful implementation of the policy statements throughout the report
requires the delivery of mental health services to individuals who have complex needs and a long history of unsuccessful engagement in the communitybased mental health system. The chapter concerning an effective mental health
system discusses the need for mental health services that are accessible, easy
to navigate, culturally competent, and integrated; treatment provided should
adhere to an evidence base. A community mental health system that does not
meet these criteria is unlikely to maintain an individual with mental illness
engaged in treatment, and thus will quickly cause criminal justice officials to
lose confidence in the community’s capacity to support people with mental illness.
The last set of policy statement in the following chart recognize that measuring the outcomes of programs designed to improve the response to people
with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system is also of paramount
importance. Program administrators must monitor the impact of a new initiative. Such information is essential to determine whether a program or policy is
successful and how it can be improved. It also facilitates continued support for
promising initiatives.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Report
Chapter
Involvement
with the Mental
Health System

Contact
with Law
Enforcement

Pretrial Issues,
Adjudication,
and Sentencing

EVENT/ISSUE

POLICY
STATEMENT
Number

POLICY STATEMENT

Involvement with
the Mental
Health System

1

Improve availability of and access to comprehensive, individualized services
when and where they are most needed to enable people with mental illness to
maintain meaningful community membership and avoid inappropriate criminal
justice involvement.

Request for
Police Service

2

Provide dispatchers with tools to determine whether mental illness may be a
factor in a call for service and to use that information to dispatch the call to
the appropriate responder.

On-Scene
Assessment

3

Develop procedures that require officers to determine whether mental illness is
a factor in the incident and whether a serious crime has been committed—
while ensuring the safety of all involved parties.

On-Scene
Response

4

Establish written protocols that enable officers to implement an appropriate
response based on the nature of the incident, the behavior of the person with
mental illness, and available resources.

Incident
Documentation

5

Document accurately police contacts with people whose mental illness was a
factor in an incident to promote accountability and to enhance service delivery.

Police Response
Evaluation

6

Collaborate with mental health partners to reduce the need for subsequent
contacts between people with mental illness and law enforcement.

Appointment of
Counsel

7

Make defense attorneys aware of the following: (a) the mental health
condition, history and needs of their clients as early as possible in the court
process; (b) the current availability of quality mental health resources in the
community; and (c) current legislation and case law that might affect the use
of mental health information in the resolution of their client’s case.

Consultation with
Victim

8

Educate individuals who have been victimized by a defendant with a mental
illness, or their survivors, about mental illness and how the criminal justice
system deals with defendants with mental illness.

Prosecutorial
Review of
Charges

9

Maximize the use of alternatives to prosecution through pretrial diversion in
appropriate cases involving people with a mental illness.

Modification of
Pretrial Diversion
Conditions

10

Assist defendants with mental illness in complying with conditions of pretrial
diversion.

Pretrial Release/
Detention
Hearing

11

Maximize the use of pretrial release options in appropriate cases of defendants
with mental illness so that no person is detained pretrial solely for the lack of
information or options to address the person's mental illness.

Modification of
Pretrial Release
Conditions

12

Assist defendants with mental illness who are released pretrial in complying
with conditions of pretrial release.

Intake at County/
Municipal
Detention Facility

13

Ensure that the mechanisms are in place to provide for screening and
identification of mental illness, crisis intervention and short-term treatment,
and discharge planning for defendants with mental illness who are held in jail
pending the adjudication of their cases.

Adjudication

14

Maximize the availability and use of dispositional alternatives in appropriate
cases of people with mental illness.

Sentencing

15

Maximize the use of sentencing options in appropriate cases for offenders with
mental illness.

Modification of
Conditions of
Probation/Supervised Release

16

Assist offenders with mental illness in complying with conditions of probation.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

xvii

Executive Summary

Report
Chapter
Incarceration
and Reentry

EVENT/ISSUE
Receiving and
Intake of
Sentenced
Inmates
Development of
Treatment Plans,
Assignment to
Programs, and
Classification /
Housing
Decisions

Improving
Collaboration

Training
Practitioners
and
Policymakers
and Educating
the Community

POLICY
STATEMENT
Number

17

18

POLICY STATEMENT

Develop a consistent approach to screen sentenced inmates for mental illness
upon admission to state prison or jail facilities and make referrals, as
appropriate, for follow-up assessment and/or evaluations.
Use the results of the mental health assessment and evaluation to develop an
individualized treatment, housing, and programming plan, and ensure that this
information follows the inmate whenever he or she is transferred to another
facility.

Subsequent
Referral for
Screening and
Mental Health
Evaluation

19

Release Decision

20

Ensure that clinical expertise and familiarity with community-based mental
health resources inform release decisions and determination of conditions of
release.

Development of
Transition Plan

21

Facilitate collaboration among corrections, community corrections, and mental
health officials to effect the safe and seamless transition of people with mental
illness from prison to the community.

Modification of
Conditions of
Supervised
Release

22

Monitor and facilitate compliance with conditions of release and respond
swiftly and appropriately to violations of conditions of release.

Maintaining
Contact Between
Individual and
Mental Health
System

23

Ensure that people with mental illness who are no longer under supervision of
the criminal justice system maintain contact with mental health services and
supports for as long as is necessary.

Obtaining and
Sharing
Resources

24

Determine how the partners will make resources available to respond jointly to
the problem identified.

Sharing
Information

25

Develop protocols to ensure that criminal justice and mental health partners
share mental health information without infringing on individuals’ civil
liberties.

Institutionalizing
the Partnership

26

Institutionalize the partnership to ensure it can sustain changes in leadership
or personnel.

Determining
Training Goals
and Objectives

27

Determine training goals and objectives and tap expertise in both the criminal
justice and mental health systems to inform these decisions.

Training for Law
Enforcement
Personnel

28

Establish new skills, recruit, in-service, and advanced skills training
requirements for law enforcement personnel about responding to individuals
with mental illness, and develop curricula accordingly.

Training for
Court Personnel

29

Provide adequate training for court officials (including prosecutors and
defense attorneys) about appropriate responses to criminal defendants who
have a mental illness.

xviii Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Identify individuals who—despite not raising any flags during the screening
and assessment process—show symptoms of mental illness after their intake
into the facility, and ensure that appropriate action is taken.

Report
Chapter

Training
Practitioners and
Policymakers and
Educating the
Community

continued

Elements of an
Effective Mental
Health System

Measuring and
Evaluating
Outcomes

POLICY
STATEMENT
Number

POLICY STATEMENT

Training for
Corrections
Personnel

30

Train corrections staff to recognize symptoms of mental illness and to respond
appropriately to people with mental illness.

Training for
Mental Health
Professionals

31

Develop training programs for mental health professionals who work with the
criminal justice system.

Educating the
community and
Building
Community
Awareness

32

Educate the community about mental illness, the value of mental health
services, and appropriate responses when people with mental illness who
come into contact with the criminal justice system.

Identifying
Trainers

33

Identify qualified professionals to conduct training.

Evaluating
Trainers

34

Evaluate the quality of training content and delivery; update training topics and
curricula annually to ensure they reflect both the best practices in the field as
well as the salient issues identified as problematic during the past year.

Evidence-Based
Practices

35

Promote the use of evidence-based practices and promising approaches in
mental health treatment, services, administration, and funding.

Integration of
Services

36

Initiate and maintain partnerships between mental health and other relevant
systems to promote access to the full range of services and supports, to
ensure continuity of care, and to reduce duplication of services.

Co-Occurring
Disorders

37

Promote system and services integration for co-occurring mental health and
substance abuse disorders.

Housing

38

Develop and enhance housing resources that are linked to appropriate levels of
mental health supports and services.

Consumer and
Family Member
Involvement

39

Cultural
Competency

40

Ensure that racial, cultural, and ethnic minorities receive mental health
services that are appropriate for their needs.

Workforce

41

Determine the adequacy of the current mental health workforce to meet the
needs of the system’s clients.

Accountability

42

Establish and utilize performance measures to promote accountability among
systems administrators, funders, and providers.

Advocacy

43

Build awareness of the need for high quality, comprehensive services and of
the impact of stigma and discriminatory policies on access to them.

Identifying
Outcome
Measures

44

Identify outcome measures that will enable policymakers to assess the value
and efficacy of the initiative.

Collecting Data

45

Ensure mechanisms are in place to capture data consistent with the process
and outcome measures identified.

Disseminating
Findings

46

Publicize program successes as appropriate to the media, public, and
appropriators.

EVENT/ISSUE

Involve consumers and families in mental health planning and service delivery.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

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Executive Summary

IV.

USING THE REPORT AND NEXT STEPS

The Consensus Project Report should be used as a compendium of ideas
that will help individuals identify and frame practices and programs that will
improve the response to people with mental illness who are in contact with—or
at risk of becoming involved with—the criminal justice system.
Deciding where to start—especially when familiar with the existing obstacles to improving the systems—is difficult. In more than one community,
reform efforts have been derailed before getting underway because those involved could not decide where to begin. Similarly, attempting to implement
many, if not all, of the policy statements in this report could overwhelm a community.
The single most significant common denominator shared among communities that have successfully improved the criminal justice and mental health
systems’ response to people with mental illness is that each started with some
degree of cooperation between at least two key stakeholders—one from the criminal justice system and the other from the mental health system.
Indeed, the Consensus Project report reflects, on a national level, the value
of substantive, bipartisan, cross-system dialogue regarding mental health issues as they relate to the criminal justice system. At a minimum, such discussions should be replicated in communities across the country. Where those
discussions have already begun, agents of change should capitalize on the window of opportunity that now exists. The lives of people with mental illness,
their loved ones, and the health and safety of communities in general depend
on it.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

The Criminal Justice/
Mental Health Consensus
Project

Introduction

T

he Criminal Justice/Mental Health
Consensus Project is a broad-based, national effort to improve the response
to people with mental illness who come
into contact (or are at risk of coming into contact)
with the criminal justice system. This report provides policymakers, practitioners, advocates, and
others determined to address this issue with an
array of options and ideas, many of which have
emerged in communities across the country.
This report has a broad target audience best
characterized as “agents of change.” Defined as a
wide range of leaders in communities and states,
change agents may be state elected officials such as
legislators or appointed administrators and their
staffs who can consider and address the broad policy
issues that have profound implications at the community level. Because this is a community problem, however, the change agents must also include
a wide range of community players, starting with
those most closely affected by the problem. They
can use the recommendations found in this report

2

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

to strengthen community structures, and they can
work with policymakers to ensure that solutions
they craft are practical and effective.
Perhaps the most valuable aspect of this report is that it reflects a consensus among the stakeholders in the criminal justice and mental health
system. Police professionals, district attorneys, public defenders, judges, state corrections directors and
jail administrators, community corrections officials,
state mental health directors, local mental health
and substance abuse treatment providers, clinicians,
crime victims, consumers, mental health advocates,
and others have all had input into the report. Legislators, policymakers, practitioners, and other
agents of change can champion and implement the
detailed recommendations in this report knowing
that each has been developed and approved by experts from an extraordinarily diverse range of perspectives who work in and administer the departments, agencies, and organizations trying every day
to address the needs of people with mental illness
in the criminal justice system.

What, exactly, is the problem? How did it develop? Who can fix it? What can they do? And
where do they start? This report addresses these
questions. State and local government officials and
community leaders can use the policy statements
provided in this report to get beyond discussing the
issue and to begin developing initiatives that will
address the problem. Furthermore, the report enables agents of change to cite programs and practices that demonstrate that there are in fact jurisdictions that have already taken steps to implement
a particular policy statement.
Having all of this information in one document,
which reflects countless hours of counsel from over
100 of the most respected criminal justice and mental health practitioners and policymakers in the
United States, is unprecedented. While this report
by itself cannot change a community or system, it
is an extraordinary resource in the hands of a person committed to improving the criminal justice
system's response to people with mental illness.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

3

Introduction

The Problem

THE PROBLEM
People with mental illness are significantly overrepresented among the
segment of the population in contact with the criminal justice system. Approximately 5 percent of the U.S. population has a serious mental illness.1 The U.S.
Department of Justice reported in 1999, however, that about 16 percent of the
population in prison or jail has a serious mental illness.2 Of the 10 million
people booked into U.S. jails in 1997, at least 700,000 had a serious mental
illness; approximately three-quarters of those individuals had a co-occurring
substance abuse disorder.3 A study conducted in New York State found that
men involved in the public mental health system over a five-year period were
four times as likely to be incarcerated as men in the general population; for
women, the ratio was six to one.4

Impact of the Problem on People and Systems
How elected officials and the public understand mental illness as it relates
to the criminal justice system often is informed by newspaper and television
headlines, which typically focus only on the most egregious manifestations of
the problem: a screwdriver-wielding woman with mental illness shot dead by
officers who subsequently tell of being frightened and confused themselves; a
crime victim outraged that, before assaulting her, a person with a history of
untreated mental illness bounced between community mental health centers,
state hospitals, and the local jail.
Although these tragedies sometimes drive policymaking, they are not the
cases involving mental illness most familiar to police officers, prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges, corrections administrators, parole and probation officers, and other criminal justice personnel. These criminal justice practitioners
are all too familiar with the following scenarios:
“

A police officer returns countless times to a house or street corner in
response to a call for assistance involving the same person with a history of mental illness; each time, the officer is unable to link the person
to treatment.

“

Month after month, a prosecutor charges the same person with committing a different public nuisance crime, and, each time, the defendant with mental illness pleads guilty to time served.

1. R. C. Kessler et al., “A Methodology for Estimating the
12-Month Prevalence of Serious Mental Illness,” In Mental
Health United States 1999, edited by R.W. Manderscheid
and M.J. Henderson, Rockville, MD, Center for Mental
Health Services.
2. Paula. M. Ditton, Mental Health Treatment of Inmates
and Probationers, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice, July 1999. The prevalence statistic for
mental illness in U.S. jails and prisons was gathered
through a combination of inmate self-reporting and mental
health treatment history. Inmates in the sample qualified as
having a mental illness if they met one of the following two

4

criteria: “They reported a current mental or emotional condition,
or they reported an overnight stay in a mental hospital or treatment program.” To account for inmate underreporting of their
mental health problems, admission to a mental hospital was included as a measure of mental illness. Ten percent of inmates
reported a current mental condition and an additional six percent
did not report a condition but had stayed overnight in a mental
hospital or treatment program.
3. Linda Teplin and Karen Abram, “Co-Occurring Disorders
among Mentally Ill Jail Detainees: Implications for Public Policy,”
American Psychologist 46:10, October 1991, pp. 1036-45.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

“

Jail and prison administrators watch their systems swell with these
individuals, who spin through the revolving door of the institution. Corrections officials’ job is to keep these inmates alive, even if that means
isolating them in administrative segregation with no outside contact for
weeks on end. When the release date comes around, freedom for many
prisoners is only temporary, unless they are among the few for whom
reentry has meant planning and linkage with community supports.

“

A parole officer already struggling with an overwhelming caseload is
assigned an individual with mental illness released from prison; the
officer receives only limited support from the community-based mental
health program. The parolee is rearrested and returned to prison when
he commits a new crime—urinating on a street corner and making lewd
gestures to frightened people passing by—displaying in public the symptoms of his untreated mental illness.

Each of these situations frustrates criminal justice officials; they know they
are failing the person who suffers from mental illness and his or her loved ones.
Encounters between people with mental illness and law enforcement sometimes
end in violence, jeopardizing the safety of consumers and officers. Once incarcerated, people with mental illness become especially vulnerable to assault or
other forms of intimidation by predatory inmates.5 People with mental illness

"Inmates, families, guards,
judges, prosecutors and
police are in unique agreement that our broken system of punting the most
seriously mentally ill to the
criminal justice system
must be fixed."
U.S. CONGRESSMAN
TED STRICKLAND
Ohio
Source: U.S. House Committee

on the Judiciary, Subcommittee on
Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland
Security. The Impact of the Mentally Ill on the Criminal Justice
System. 107th Congress, September 21, 2001

also tend to decompensate in prisons and jails—environments that exacerbate
the symptoms of mental illness—and there they are at especial risk of harming
themselves or others. Upon their return to the communities they left behind
during their incarceration, they discover that their criminal records have, in
many cases, made it even harder to obtain access to treatment.
Criminal justice officials may lose sight, however, of the lives these individuals lead. These are sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, who struggle
daily to fend off symptoms of mental illness. Without adequate treatment, their
disease may disable them significantly. Some experience delusions and may be
convinced that strangers are planning to attack them. In other cases, depression immobilizes them; overcome with a sense of hopelessness, their physical
strength deteriorates. Many of them are people who’ve spent years trying to
mask torments or hallucinations with alcohol or any street drug they could
scrape together enough money to buy and now are dependent on these substances to avoid withdrawal states and further decompensation. Often, their

4. Judith F. Cox, Pamela C. Morschauser, Steven Banks,
James L. Stone, “A Five-Year Population Study of Persons
Involved in the Mental Health and Local Correctional Systems,” Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research
28:2, May 2001, pp. 177-87. This study used data from
the mental health and criminal justice systems of 25 upstate
New York counties. The study defines individuals who have
been in the public mental health system as having been in
a state-run psychiatric inpatient facility or a local psychiatric inpatient facility, or having received mental health services from a local, general hospital using Medicaid coverage. Incarceration was defined as having spent at least
one night in jail during the five-year study period.

5. See testimony of Reginald Wilkinson, then vice president, Association of State Correctional Administrators and
director, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction,
before the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on
Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, oversight hearing
on “The Impact of the Mentally Ill on the Criminal Justice
System,” September 21, 2000, available at:
www.house.gov/judiciary/wilk0921.htm .

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

5

Introduction

The Problem

exhausted families have run out of the funds and emotional resources to take
care of them.
Sometimes, when the criminal justice and mental health systems let someone with mental illness fall through the cracks, a stranger is harmed and justifiably motivated to demand accountability from the person with the mental
illness and the public health system that failed. More often, when a person
with a mental illness does assault someone, the victim is a family member,
friend, or acquaintance.6 Whether relatives or strangers, the victims are usually left to make sense of the baffling interface between the criminal justice
system and the mental health system.7
The current situation not only exacts a significant toll on the lives of people
with mental illness, their families, and the community in general, it also threatens to overwhelm the criminal justice system. Police departments dedicate
thousands of hours each year transporting people with mental illness to hospitals and community mental health centers where staff often are unable to admit the individual or quickly return him to the streets. Judges, prosecutors,
and defense attorneys race through backlogged dockets, disposing of most cases
in minutes, but find that the symptoms and behaviors of the growing numbers
of defendants with mental illness who appear in their courtrooms cannot be
processed as quickly. On any given day, the Los Angeles County Jail holds as
many as 3,300 individuals with mental illness—more than any state hospital or
mental health institution in the United States.8 Without adequate planning to
transition inmates with mental illness back into the community, many will
quickly return to jail or prison; recidivism rates for inmates with mental illness
can reach over 70 percent in some jurisdictions.9
Every criminal justice professional would agree that the system has inherited a problem of enormous scope and complexity. Police, courts, and corrections officials feel they’re boxed in. Resources are stretched to the limit: they’re
tight on money and even tighter on time. Under the circumstances, many have
tried to find a way to serve people with mental illness more efficiently. But
with limited options and resources, especially in rural areas, many criminal
justice practitioners are frustrated because they know what they’re doing isn’t
enough.

6. Ditton, Mental Health and Treatment, 4. More than 60
percent of the victims of violent crimes committed by
state prisoners with mental illness were known to the offenders.
7. People with mental illness who themselves are the
victims of a crime are a notable subset of this population.
While especially in need of support services, they in particular suffer from insufficient coordination between criminal justice and mental health systems. Although some
recommendations in this report address this population,
the issue of victims with mental illness is generally beyond
the scope of this report.

6

8. Sacramento Bee, “Treatment Not Jail: A Plan to Rebuild Community Mental Health,” March 17, 1999, Section B,
p. 6.
9. Lois A. Ventura, Charlene A. Cassel, Joseph E. Jacoby,
Bu Huang, “Case Management and Recidivism of Mentally
Ill Persons Released From Jail,” Psychiatric Services
49:10, Oct. 1998, 1330-37. This study examined the effect
of community case management on recidivism for jail detainees who have mental illness. The study followed
releasees for 36 months. Within the 36 months, 188 of 261

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"It is unacceptable that Los
Angeles County and New
York jails have essentially
become the largest mental
health care institutions in
our country—these are jails,
after all, not mental health
facilities."
U.S. SENATOR
MIKE DEWINE
Ohio
Source: U.S. House Committee

on the Judiciary, The Impact of the
Mentally Ill on the Criminal Justice
System. September 21 2001

Origins of the Problem
Understanding why this problem has become so acute in recent years requires some familiarity with the dramatic shifts in mental health and criminal
justice policy over the course of recent decades.
Few institutions have attempted so complete a change over the previous
35 years as has the nation’s public mental health system. Once based exclusively on institutional care and isolation, the system has shifted its emphasis
almost entirely to the provision of community-based support for individuals with
mental illness. In 1955, state mental hospital populations peaked at a combined
559,000 people; in 1999 this number totaled fewer than 80,000.10 There are
many reasons for this change; fiscal reality, political realignment, philosophical
shifts, and medical advances, in no particular order, have all played a part. These
forces and others have converged to create a reality that few could have envisioned when the Community Mental Health Centers Act was signed into law in
1964.11
For many clients who utilize this system, successful community integration has indeed been achieved. Reliable data on the success of community mental health are difficult to find, but anecdotal experience shows that many people
with active or past diagnoses of mental illness live and work “normally” in communities across the country. Their very success in achieving recovery helps
them to mix unremarkably with their families, neighbors, and coworkers.
The mental health system today has powerful and effective medications
and rehabilitation models with which to work. The professionals in the system
know much about how to meet the needs of the people it is meant to serve. The
problem comes, however, in the ability of the system’s intended clientele to
access its services and, often, in the system’s ability to make these services
accessible. The existing mental health system bypasses, overlooks, or turns away
far too many potential clients. Many people the system might serve are too
disabled, fearful, or deluded to make and keep appointments at mental health
centers. Others simply never make contact and are camped under highway overpasses, huddled on heating grates, or shuffling with grocery carts on city streets.
The lack of affordable, practicable housing options for individuals with
mental illness compounds the difficulty of providing successful treatment. Without housing that is integrated with mental health, substance abuse, employ-

subjects (72 percent) were rearrested.
10. T.A. Kupers, Prison Madness: The Mental Health
Crisis Behind Bars and What We Must Do About It, San
Francisco, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1999.
11. The public, the media, and even some in the criminal justice and mental health system, suggest that there is
a causal connection between the dramatic reduction in the
number of people in mental health institutions and the
extraordinary growth of the prison and jail population.
Some present two straight-line graphs to illustrate the
point, implying that the very same people who used to be

in mental health institutions are now in prison or jail. In
fact, no study has proven that there has been a transition
of this population from one institution to another. Indeed,
while the gross number of people with mental illness incarcerated has increased significantly in recent years, there is
no evidence that the percentage of people in prison or jail
who have a mental illness is any greater than it was 35
years ago when the Community Mental Health Centers Act
was passed. See Henry J. Steadman et al., “The Impact of
State Mental Hospital Deinstitutionalization on United States

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

7

Introduction

The Problem

Violence and
Mental Illness

ment, and other services, many people with mental illness end up homeless,
disconnected from community supports, and thus more likely to decompensate
and become involved with the criminal justice system. Most studies estimate
that at least 20 to 25 percent of the single adult homeless population suffers
from some severe and persistent mental illness.12
It is against this backdrop that officials in the criminal justice system have
in recent years encountered people with mental illness with increasing frequency.
Because of sensational news headlines or other sources that stigmatize mental
illness, some criminal justice professionals may be prone to making the incorrect assumption—which most of the public makes—that mental illness by definition incorporates violent behavior.13 They may respond to situations on the
street, in a courtroom, or at a parole board hearing on the basis of common but
erroneous perceptions. In such instances, police, judges, and releasing authorities may be especially wary about releasing people with mental illness into the
community.
Compounding the problems stemming from the stigma associated with
mental illness, changes to criminal justice policies during the course of the last
two decades have prolonged the involvement of people with mental illness in
the criminal justice system. For example, in response to community or government leaders’ demands to increase quality of life and to reduce crime and fear of
crime, many police departments have instituted “zero tolerance” policies, arresting people committing offenses such as loitering, urinating in public, and
disturbing the peace.17 Many individuals netted as a result of these tactics
were people demonstrating in public the symptoms of untreated mental illness.
The majority of these people also have a co-occurring substance abuse problem.
As legislatures have increased the length of prison sentences (and frequently
made them mandatory) for the possession or sale of some illegal substances,
growing numbers of people with mental illness have been incarcerated—and for
longer periods of time.
Already overcrowded and overburdened, prisons and jails typically are
without the resources to ensure the availability of effective mental health treatment and appropriate medications. In these cases, a person with mental illness
is likely to decompensate, exacerbating the symptoms of his or her mental ill-

Prison Populations, 1968-1978,” Journal of Criminal Law &
Criminology 75:2, 1984, pp. 474-90.
12. Paul Koegel et al., “The Causes of Homelessness,”
in Homelessness in America, 1996, Oryx Press. However,
according to the Federal Task Force on Homelessness and
Severe Mental Illness, only approximately 5 percent of
people with severe mental illness are homeless on a given
day. Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe
Mental Illness, 1992, Outcasts On Main Street: A Report of
the Federal Task Force on Homelessness and Severe Mental Illness, Washington, D.C., GPO. For more information
on homelessness and mental illness see A.D. Lezak and E.
Edgar, Preventing Homelessness Among People with Severe Mental Illness, Rockville, MD, Center for Mental

8

Health Services, 1999 and The National Resource Center on
Homelessness and Mental Illness, National Organizations
Concerned with Mental Health, Housing, and Homelessness,
Delmar, NY, 2001, available at: www.nrchmi.com
13. U.S. Surgeon General, Mental Health: A Report of
the Surgeon General, 1999, Available at:
www.surgeongeneral.gov.
14. H. Steadman, E. Mulvey, J. Monahan, P Robbins, P.
Applebaum,, T. Grisso, L. Roth, and E. Silver, "Violence
by People Discharged From Acute Psychiatric Inpatient Facilities and by Others in the Same Neighborhoods. Archives
of General Psychiatry 55, 1998, 393-401. See also K.T.
Meuser, et. al., "Trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Severe Mental Illness," Journal of Consulting and

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Popular beliefs about violence and
mental illness do not jibe with
reality. The results of several
recent, large-scale research
projects conclude that only a
weak statistical association between mental disorder and violence exists. 14 Serious violence
by people with major mental disorders appears concentrated in a
small fraction of the total number, and especially among those
who use alcohol and other drugs
and those without access to effective services. 15 Indeed, the
vast majority of people with mental illness are not violent; they
are more likely to be victims of
crime than they are likely to harm
others. 16

ness. As a result, the person may act out and fail to follow prison rules, which in
turn extends the period of incarceration for the individual. For these reasons,
people with mental illness tend to stay in jail or prison considerably longer than
other general population inmates. For example, on Riker’s Island, New York
City’s largest jail, the average stay for all inmates is 42 days, but it is 215 days
for people with mental illness.18
Inmates with a mental illness who leave prison or jail are typically provided with just a short (two weeks or less) supply of medications and enough
money to take a one-way trip on public transportation. Without housing, linkage to a community-based mental health treatment program, or other much
needed services, the person typically returns to the type of behavior that originally contributed to his or her incarceration.

REASONS FOR HOPE
The good news is that the urgency of the problem has bred numerous workable options—within a framework of limited resources—in many communities
across the country. These efforts span the criminal justice continuum, preceding arrest and continuing past incarceration and the individual’s reentry into
the community, and their success is often a function of the creation of partnerships, especially between the criminal justice and mental health systems. By
forming partnerships police officers on the street, booking officers in the stations, jailers, judges, public defenders, prosecutors, probation officers, prison
administrators, and parole officers have created service and diversion options
that support their public safety functions, and, at the same time, ensure appropriate care of people with mental illness who come into their systems. Along
with mental health providers, these partnerships may also include housing
agency officials, substance abuse treatment providers, business owners, families, and people who themselves have a mental illness. Identifying and engaging others with a stake in the problem builds a support network for its solution.
Partnerships create a framework for moving forward. They help identify community strengths and resources as well as deficits and needs. Most important,
Clinical Psychology 66:3, 1998, 493-99..

conditions were strong predictors of criminal victimization.

15. Ibid.

17. Ditton, Mental Health and Treatment, 4. According to
the Bureau of Justice Statistics, over one-quarter of the
inmates with mental illness in local jails were incarcerated
for a public order offense.

16. Virginia Hiday, Marvin S. Swartz, Jeffery W.
Swanson, Randy Borum, and H. Ryan Wagner, “Criminal
Victimization of Persons with Severe Mental Illness,”
Psychiatric Services 50, 1998, pp. 62-68. This study
tracked 331 involuntary mental health outpatients. The
rate of nonviolent victimization for the study cohort (22.4
percent) was similar to that in the general population
(22.1 percent). The rate of violent criminal victimization,
however, was two and a half times greater than in the
general population—8.1 percent compared to 3.1 percent.
In multivariate analysis, substance use and transient living

"As a member of the Senate
Appropriations Committee
in Pennsylvania, I am
acutely aware of the unsustainable rate at which the
budgets for our county jail
system and Department of
Corrections are growing. We
want to continue ensuring
that we throw away the key
when we lock up violent
offenders. We cannot afford
to maintain that practice if
we continue incarcerating
nonviolent offenders or
misdemeanants who are in
prison or jail only because
they have a mental illness."
SENATOR ROBERT J.
THOMPSON
Chair, Appropriations
Committee, PA
Source: U.S. House Committee

on the Judiciary, The Impact of the
Mentally Ill on the Criminal Justice
System. September 21 2001

18. Fox Butterfield, “Prisons Replace Hospitals for the
Nation’s Mentally Ill,” New York Times, March 5, 1998,
A1. Refers to testimony of Dr. Arthur Lynch, director of
Mental Health Services for the NYC Health and Hospitals
Corporation, before the Subcommittee on Mental Health,
Mental Retardation, Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Service
(April 22, 1998).

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

9

Introduction

How to Use this Repor t

The Target
Population

perhaps, a community partnership becomes a single voice that demands attention and appeals convincingly for assistance needed to solve the problem.
The extent to which a partnership at the community level changes systems
depends on the extent to which leaders emerge at the state level. State legislatures raise and appropriate money. They write laws that affect who gets into
the criminal justice system and how they are treated. Public mental health
systems are administered and funded at the state level, so decisions made there
affect every community statewide. If the criminal justice system’s encounters
with people who have mental illness are to be changed, community partners
and state policymakers must work together. This report should be exceptionally helpful in that regard.

HOW TO USE THIS REPORT
This report comprises 46 policy statements, each of which can serve as a
guiding principle or as the underpinning of an initiative to improve the criminal justice system’s response to a person with mental illness. Each policy statement is followed by a series of recommendations—lettered statements in bold
text—highlighting the steps that should be taken to implement the corresponding policy. The policy statements and recommendations will help agents of
change to focus their efforts on particular aspects of the interaction between
individuals with mental illness and the criminal justice system.
Woven into the discussion of each recommendation are examples of programs, policies, or elements of state statutes that illustrate one or more
jurisdiction’s attempt to implement a particular policy. By highlighting certain
approaches, however, the report is not promoting them as “best practices.” They
are simply efforts that involve partnerships, resourcefulness, or even longtime
practices for other communities to consider. (Programs, policies, and statutes
highlighted in the text are, with some exceptions, described in more detail in
Appendix B: Program Examples Cited in the Report.) Just as this report recognizes that each person with mental illness is unique, the report’s authors understand that communities, their problems, and potential solutions vary considerably across the country. What works in one community may not be a perfect fit
for its neighbor, let alone for a community halfway across the continent. Indeed, this report emphasizes that each community must find its own solutions
to these complex and interwoven problems. The practices and approaches chosen for examples in this report are themselves continuing to evolve and adapt to
changing community conditions.

10

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Policy statements in this report
address individuals whose behavior—not diagnosis alone—reflects
some type of severe or serious
mental illness. In addition, the
target population for this project
includes individuals who exhibit
symptoms of brain injury, mental
illness relating to aging (i.e., dementia), coexisting developmental disability, or co-occurring substance abuse problems. The
target population excludes individuals who exhibit symptoms of
character disorder, developmental disability, or substance abuse
only.
The age of the target population
is adult, with two exceptions.
Recommendations that deal with
local law enforcement contemplate juveniles whose age is often not immediately apparent to
an officer. In addition, those recommendations developed for corrections administrators target
adults as well as juveniles incarcerated in adult correctional facilities. (The situation involving
juveniles with mental illness who
come into contact with the criminal justice system is no less serious and in need of policymakers’ attention than those problems regarding adults with mental illness who come into contact
with the criminal justice system.
Nevertheless, the systems that
deal with the two age populations
are distinct, and there were not
sufficient resources available in
this project to evaluate the problems regarding both adults and
juveniles.)

Common Language, Common Terms
The two worlds of justice and mental health each have their own
language, with terms that do not always easily translate into
broader, more familiar words; for this reason, a comprehensive
glossary is included as Appendix A. There are some terms,
however, that appear throughout the document, and warrant explanation up front.19
co-occurring disorders. The term co-occurring disorders

used throughout this manuscript refers to the combination of a
substance use disorder with a non-addictive mental disorder.
Although there may be other "co-morbid" conditions, especially
in those with co-occurring disorders (e.g. HIV/AIDS, Hepatitis,
or diabetes), because of the high frequency that addictive behavior occurs in individuals with mental disorders, co-occurring
disorders are extremely relevant to this report. Other frequently
used terms for this condition include; dual diagnosis, MICA
(mentally ill substance abuser), and CAMI (chemical abuse and
mental illness).
diversion. There are two distinct definitions that apply to the

usage of the word in the text. The first, and most prevalent,
means removing someone from the traditional track or expected
process of the criminal justice system; police diversion (or prebooking diversion) means that the person is not taken into custody but either taken home, to some treatment or support system, or simply released in lieu of charging the person with a
crime. Jail diversion means a judicial decision that pretrial release or probation is more appropriate then incarceration.
In Chapter 3: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing, however, there is a narrower definition employed, usually called "pretrial diversion". This term of art describes a process whereby
prosecutors—and only prosecutors—may decide that bringing
the full force of the justice process to bear in a particular instance is not warranted. This can occur for a number of reasons; the prosecutor might decide that since the defendant is a
first-time offender and the charge is minor, it is simply not worth
the systems time and resources to prosecute. Or the prosecutor
might feel that having an offender go through the system would
do the person more harm than good and society would, in the
end, pay the price.
Usually when this second definition is used, there is a program
that the defendant enters as part of a contract entered into between the defendant and the prosecutor. The defendant agrees
to comply with certain conditions on his behavior for a fixed
period of time; the state agrees to drop the charges if the defendant is successful.
jails and prisons. Jails are usually defined as the facility of
incarceration that is used primarily for people awaiting trial and
for those sentenced to short-usually one year or less-terms of
incarceration. Jails are typically run by the county. The average

length of stay in jails is brief, measured in days rather than months
or years, when compared with prisons. In most instances it is
difficult to predict how long an individual will remain in jail, since
many are there simply because they have not yet been able to
make bail. Jails over the period of a year will have a much higher
number of discrete individuals entering and leaving the facility
than do prisons.
Unlike jails, prisons are state-operated and typically hold only
those persons sentenced to over a year. Unlike jails, where there
is a mix of pretrial and sentenced persons in the population, all
people entering prison have fixed sentences defining how long
they will remain incarcerated. The average lengths of stay in
prison is always measured in years.
The inmate with a mental illness in a jail is there for a short
period of time, is exposed to large numbers of inmates coming
and going, is rarely able to become involved in an effective treatment protocol since their stay is likely to be short, and may
have little understanding of why they are incarcerated, all contributing to a high level of stress and anxiety. The prison inmate on the other hand has time to develop a pattern for his
days and usually has access to treatment for his illness. On the
other hand, he will likely be incarcerated for years and will face
numerous difficulties in adjusting to the outside world when
finally released.
mental health. A state of successful performance of mental

function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships
with other people, and the ability to adapt to change and to cope
with diversity. One person's understanding of mental health
may differ from another's based on cultural values and other
factors.
mental illness. The term that refers collectively to all diag-

nosable mental disorders.
mental disorders. Health conditions that are characterized

by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning such as Alzheimer's disease, depression, and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.
Serious Mental Illness (SMI). A term defined by federal
regulations that generally applies to mental disorders that interfere with some area of social functioning.
Severe and Persistent Mental Illness (SPMI). About half

of those with serious mental illness were identified as being
even more seriously affected, with diagnoses that includes schizophrenia, severe depression, bipolar disorder, panic disorder, and
obsessive-compulsive disorder. Approximately 5.4 percent of
the adult population is affected by SMI while roughly 2.6 percent
of the population is affected with SPMI.

19. Definitions concerning mental health and mental illness are courtesy of the U. S.
Department of Health and Human Services, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon
General, Rockville, MD: 1999, pp. 4-5; 46.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

11

Introduction

Getting Started

Understanding the
Target Population

The policy statements in the report are divided into two parts. Part One is
organized according to events on the criminal justice continuum that provide
significant opportunities to change the course of involvement a person with
mental illness might have with the criminal justice system.20 The first event
(and the corresponding policy statement) addresses the obligation of the mental
health system to minimize the frequency with which a person with mental illness comes into contact with police. Subsequent policy statements describe
options that should be available and policies that should be in place for law
enforcement, courts, corrections, and community corrections officials encountering people with mental illness.
Four themes recur throughout the first part of the report: 1) improving
collaboration; 2) training staff; 3) building an effective mental health system ;
and 4) measuring and evaluating outcomes. The policy statements in Part Two
of the report are organized according to these overarching themes.

About the Target Population
The policy statements and recommendations for implementation in this
report contemplate a broad spectrum of the population with mental illness in
contact with the criminal justice system.
The report identifies approaches for addressing issues related to the inappropriate involvement of people with mental illness with the criminal justice
system. It does not, however, set out to exonerate all people with mental illness
of any wrongdoing, nor does it intend to insulate them from the consequences of
their actions. Some people with mental illness may commit crimes for which
they, like anyone else, should be arrested, prosecuted, or imprisoned. In these,
as in all serious criminal cases, prosecutors, judges, and juries should consider
all available evidence and decide accordingly. With this in mind, this report
20. This report does not attempt to discuss every event
along the criminal justice continuum. Rather, specific events
are discussed for which there is opportunity to change the
typical interaction between a person with mental illness and
the criminal justice system.
21. People who are found not competent to stand trial
(and the process by which this occurs) are not the focus of
this report. Although the public and some policymakers
may be most familiar with cases involving pleas of not
guilty by reason of insanity (or under new state laws, a
conviction of “guilty but insane”), these cases in fact represent a very small fraction of the overall number of
people with mental illness who come into contact with the
criminal justice system. A 1996 study of the Baltimore
Circuit Court estimated that of 60,432 indictments filed
during one year, only eight defendants (.013 percent) ultimately pleaded not criminally responsible. All eight pleas
were uncontested by the state. Jeffrey S. Janofsky,
Mitchell H. Dunn, Erik J. Roskes, Jonathan K. Briskin, MajStina Rudolph Lunstrum, “Insanity Defense Pleas in Baltimore City: An Analysis of Outcome,” American Journal of
Psychiatry 153:11, November, 1996, pp.1464-68.
22. P.M. Ditton, Mental Health Treatment. 38 percent of
state and federal inmates with mental illness and 47 percent

12

of jail inmates with mental illness reported being unemployed in the month before their arrest.
23. Ibid. Though only approximately 5 percent of individuals with severe mental illness are believed to be homeless,
Ditton found that 30 percent of jail inmates with mental
illness and 20 percent of state prison inmates with mental
illness reported living in a shelter in the 12 months prior to
arrest; see also note 12.
24. One 1997 survey estimates that nearly 35 percent of
the individuals receiving some form of mental health treatment (inpatient, residential, outpatient, etc.) are either
black or Latino. Laura J. Milazzo-Sayre et. al., “Chapter
15: Persons Treated in Specialty Mental Health Care Programs, United States, 1997.” The Center for Mental Health
Services. An even greater percentage of the population in
jail or prison that has a mental illness is disproportionately
black or Latino. Sixty-two percent of prison inmates in
1999 were people of color. Black males have a 29 percent
chance of serving time in prison at some point in their
lives; Hispanic males have a 16 percent chance; white
males have a 4 percent chance. Mark Mauer, Intended and
Unintended Consequences, State Disparities in Imprisonment,
The Sentencing Project, 1997.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Every person with mental illness
who comes into contact with the
criminal justice system is in
some way unique. Many of the
report’s recommendations are
based on this premise. The report also recognizes that the vast
majority of people with mental illness function appropriately in the
community and commit no
crimes. Just the same, some
generalizations can be made
about the people with mental illness who are the focus of this
report. They frequently are the
poorest and most disabled citizens in the community. 22 Many
are homeless or inadequately
housed.23 In many communities,
they are overwhelmingly people
of color.24 They face multiple stigmas, especially if they have histories of criminal justice involvement overlaid on their histories
of mental illness. In many cases,
they are detained or arrested for
actions over which they have little
choice or control, at least at the
moment of apprehension. The
majority uses and abuses street
drugs or alcohol. Many have received little or no treatment for
their mental illness.

How Can We Afford these
Programs?

addresses people with mental illness who are at risk of involvement
with the criminal justice system, people with mental illness who are
charged with (or convicted of) committing misdemeanors and those
who have been charged with (or convicted of) committing serious felonies.21

GETTING STARTED
The policy statements in this report make up a compendium of
ideas, recommendations, and innovative examples that have worked
well in different places around the country and therefore should at
least be considered for implementation in other communities. Collectively, they provide a comprehensive vision for the criminal justice
and mental health systems’ response to people with mental illness.
To appreciate this vision (and the range of measures that exist to
begin to address the problem) and to inform an agent of change’s
decision of where to start, reading the entire report—regardless of
the reader’s area of expertise—is essential.
Unless efforts in a jurisdiction to improve the response to people
with mental illness who are in contact with criminal justice system
are already well-advanced, simply becoming familiar with the report’s
organization and the target population will not make it clear which
policy statement to implement first. In fact, each policy statement is
a possibility for an agent of change to consider; no single one is an
essential first step to initiating change.
It will be tempting for some readers to focus only on the implementation of those policy statements over which they have the must
influence. Police professionals, for example, will likely gravitate toward those policy statements that address law enforcement’s contact
with people with mental illness. Prosecutors may quickly fast-forward to Policy Statement 9: Prosecutorial Review of Charges.
Although focusing the application of the report in a community
to a limited number of policy statements, at least at the outset, is
probably advisable, readers should not overlook a central message of
this document: actions that law enforcement, courts, or corrections
officials take have ramifications for the entire criminal justice system. For example, how a police officer responds to an incident involving a person with a mental illness informs the decision that a
25. Information provided by Patrick Vanzo, Section Chief,
Crisis and Engagement Services, Mental Health, Chemical
Abuse and Dependency Services Division, King County Dept.
of Community and Human Services.
26. Information available at: www.thresholds.org.

State and local government officials will likely
be wary of implementing many of the policy
statements in this report, which may appear
to hinge on the infusion of new federal, state,
or local funds. Practitioners, policymakers, and advocates, however, should not
allow such concerns to stifle plans for new
programs, policies, and legislation.
As indicated earlier in the introduction, the
resources that the criminal justice and mental health systems currently allocate to arrest, hospitalize, prosecute, and incarcerate
people with mental illness who are in contact
with the criminal justice system is staggering. For example, officials in King County,
Washington determined that, over the course
of one year, 20 individuals were repeatedly
hospitalized, jailed, or admitted to detoxification centers, costing the county approximately
$1.1 million.25
Experience in Chicago, Illinois is one of the
many examples that demonstrate that an effective program can have a dramatic impact
on jail and hospital expenditures. Staff from
the Thresholds Jail Program, which provides
case management for people with mental illness released from jail, calculated the number of days that 30 people who had been
through the program were incarcerated and/
or hospitalized in the year after their participation in the program. In total, the 30 individuals spent approximately 2,200 days less
in jail (at $70/day) than they had during the
year preceding their participation in Thresholds. These same 30 people also spent about
2,100 fewer days (at $500/day) in hospitals.26 Although this significant savings in jail
and hospital days (which, on paper, equals
about $1.1 million) is not necessarily realized in reduced budget costs to any agency,
it does effect a vastly improved use of resources for the jail and area hospitals.
Many of the examples cited in this report
have demonstrated a reduction in jail and
hospital days for people with mental illness
who had formerly cycled among various institutions. These jail, prison, and hospital
beds are among the most expensive resources available to the criminal justice and
public health systems. In sum, when it
comes to people with mental illness and the
criminal justice system, policymakers simply
can't afford not to do business differently.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

13

Introduction

Getting Started

prosecutor makes in charging the defendant, which, in turn, is an important
factor a judge will take into account when setting bail. Corrections administrators rely on information obtained during the pretrial phase and at sentencing to
develop a treatment plan while the inmate is incarcerated; reports regarding
the extent to which such a plan is successful inform community corrections
authorities’ release decisions and plans for supervision of a person with mental
illness released to the community.
Considering the implementation of the policy statements that, on their
face, appear to address the mental health system only is also essential. Just as
criminal justice professionals must appreciate a system-wide response to the
problem, so must they appreciate what needs to happen for the mental health
system to be accessible and effective. A community mental health system that
does not meet these two criteria is unlikely to successfully engage an individual
with mental illness in treatment, and thus will quickly cause criminal justice
officials to lose confidence in the community’s capacity to support people with
mental illness.
Policymakers (such as legislators or county executives) whose authority spans
many or all of recommendations in the report, will wonder which policy statement to implement first. For them and other agents of change, deciding where
to start—especially when familiar with the existing obstacles to improving the
systems—can be difficult. In more than one community, reform efforts have
been derailed before really getting under way because those involved could not
decide where to begin. Similarly, attempting to implement many or all of the
policy statements in this report at once could overwhelm a community.
Aside from differences in the size and nature of the jurisdictions where the
problem plays out, there is great variability in the history, politics, resources,
and leadership of each community. These are the factors that typically steer
agents of change to distinct policy statements.
The single, most significant common denominator shared among communities that have successfully improved the criminal justice and mental health
systems’ response to people with mental illness is that each started with some
degree of cooperation between at least two key stakeholders—one from the
criminal justice system and the other from the mental health system. Accordingly, deciding where to begin will depend on the people brought together to
address the problem and the resources available to them in their community.
In sum, sparking a dialogue and cultivating a relationship between criminal justice and mental health stakeholders is, for those communities where
such collaboration does not already exist, where the agent of change should
start. Similarly, criminal justice or mental health professionals should avoid
forging ahead with the implementation of a particular policy statement with-

14

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

out first ensuring that their action plan has taken into account the implications
for the entire criminal justice and mental health systems.
For these reasons, getting started translates into facilitating communication and building cooperation among criminal justice and mental health stakeholders. A precedent for such cooperation and communication that involves
criminal justice or mental health stakeholders exists in nearly every community. Indeed, policymakers and practitioners typically appreciate the value of
collaboration, and they invariably have some experience seeding or maintaining an effort that depends on two or more organizations working together.
Still, effecting collaboration between the criminal justice and mental health
systems can be particularly vexing. Accordingly, the remainder of this introduction reviews important issues to consider for communities where representatives of the two systems have yet to begin working together or where such
efforts have stalled.

"Remarkable treatments
exist, and that's good. Yet
many people—too many
people—remain untreated.
Some end up addicted to
drugs or alcohol. Some end
up on the streets, homeless.
Others end up in our jails,
our prisons, our juvenile
detention facilities."
PRESIDENT
GEORGE W. BUSH
Source: Remarks by the Presi-

dent on Mental Health, April 29,
2002.
University of New Mexico Continuing Education Conference Center
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Recognizing the Complexities of the Mental Health System
Exploratory discussions with stakeholders in the mental health system
will, sooner or later, focus on their capacity to make mental health services
available to those who need them most. Before an agent of change reaches out
to representatives of the mental health system, it is essential that he or she
appreciate how the mental health system works.
As mentioned earlier, the advent of new treatments and service system
models is, in many ways, revolutionizing the mental health system. No less
dramatic has been the change in orientation from grim acceptance of the supposed irreversibility of the decline associated with mental illness that characterized all thinking about the condition just a few decades ago to the burgeoning belief in recovery today expressed by researchers, clinicians, advocates,
families, and—most of all—consumers. Recognition that people with mental
illness can and do get better has given hope to many individuals. It is also changing the way people think and talk about mental illness and thus altered the
course of policy.
With a foundation of hope and recovery, the system sees reintegration into
the community as perhaps its highest priority. Clinical decisions, funding structures, and other incentives are aligned in many places to direct people with
mental illness toward community integration. Administrators, advocates, consumers, and experts see hospitalization as a costly alternative residing at the
far end of a continuum that should include a rich offering of community-based
interventions. Agreement in the field dissolves, however, when stakeholders
discuss where to turn when mental health treatment systems have failed to
successfully engage an individual in treatment. Conflicting views on involun-

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

15

Introduction

Getting Started

tary commitment illustrate this tension. Some see involuntary inpatient or outpatient treatment as the ultimate intrusion, a dehumanizing deprivation of rights
to be avoided at all costs. Others hail involuntary treatments as necessary and
lifesaving tools that must be employed when an individual’s judgment is impaired. Most in the field feel torn and seek a balance that respects both realities.
The trend away from hospitalization and the embrace of recovery have led
to a new view of the place of control in mental health treatment. Just as laws
and policies in effect in most states steer mental health clients toward treatment in the “least restrictive setting,” so do treatment professionals speak of
ensuring patients the greatest possible degree of control over their own treatment choices. In recent years, mental health advocates and professionals have
reexamined the use of coercive measures in mental health treatment settings.
Many practitioners have worked hard, for example, to reduce the use of restraints and punitive seclusion in clinical settings, recognizing that they have
no therapeutic value and can only be justified when physical safety is at issue,
and laws and regulations have been rewritten to reflect this new understanding. Appreciating the mental health system’s views regarding coercion may be
particularly difficult for someone working in the criminal justice system, where
coercion is inherent at every juncture to ensure people obey laws and follow
rules. Yet, the use—and perceived use—of coercion has become the subject of
much concern and debate within the mental health community. Most of the
recommendations offered in this report address issues that arise when people
with mental illness are in contact with—or are under control of—the criminal
justice system, and they reflect the powers at that system’s disposal. By the
same token, the report takes into account the mental health system’s values
and largely steers away from making recommendations that would apply coercive measures to people with mental illness on whom the criminal justice system has no hold.
In addition to understanding key values of the mental health system, an
agent of change should become familiar with its complex organizational structure. Understanding how a system is organized largely depends on learning
how it is funded. When it comes to the mental health system, this can be a true
challenge. No rational organization chart can possibly be drawn that accurately depicts the administration and delivery of mental health services in this
country. In contrast to the criminal justice system, which has a fairly straightforward structure, the mental health system draws revenue from a dizzying
variety of sources: Medicaid, Medicare, state general revenue funds, local
matches, federal Mental Health Block Grants (grants administered by three or
more federal agencies), and patient fees, just to name those most common. In
some states, funds are funneled through managed-care frameworks. In others,

16

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

counties present an additional level of administration. “System,” indeed, may
be a misnomer for what is often a patchwork of programs, services, and complex
funding structures.
Solutions to many of the problems encountered by the criminal justice system might logically be found in the mental health system. Sadly, the mental
health system in too many places has been too beset by internal challenges and
lack of support to address some of the most visible signs of its failure. For the
public mental health system to assist the criminal justice system in addressing
the needs of people with mental illness, policymakers and community change
agents will need to ensure that it has sufficient resources and public support.

Getting Criminal Justice and Mental Health
Stakeholders to the Table
In some jurisdictions, the greatest challenge to initiating successful crosssystem collaboration is simply getting prospective partners to the table. Often,
successfully assembling key leaders in the jurisdiction depends on the stakeholders appreciating what the improved collaboration can produce.
Benefits likely to appeal to key leaders in the mental health and criminal
justice system include the following:
“

Improve the lives of people with mental illness and reduce the frequency
of their contact with the criminal justice system

“

Enhance public safety

“

Use criminal justice resources more efficiently

“

Improve the safety of line staff and of the environment in which they
work

“

Reduce taxpayer expenditures

“

Increase public confidence in the justice system

“

Gain access to resources

“

Enlist allies capable of attracting support from policymakers previously
unmoved by the need to bolster the mental health system.

In addition to these gains, collaborative discussions will themselves increase
understanding and reduce the assignment of blame. Tight budgets and growing
problems have led to friction among criminal justice practitioners, mental health
professionals, and advocates in many communities. Bringing all parties together
to address the problems can be painful, but it is the only way to engage in
problem solving effectively.

27. California Board of Corrections, Mentally Ill Offender
Crime Reduction Grant Program: Annual Report June 2000,
Available at: www.bdcorr.ca.gov/cppd/miocrg/
miocrg_publications/miocrg_publications.htm
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

17

Introduction

Getting Started

There are concrete means of eliciting commitments from stakeholders to
work together. Making funding support contingent on such cooperation is one
way. For example, in California, the legislature sought to foster a collaborative
response to the inappropriate involvement of individuals with mental illness
with the criminal justice system by establishing crime reduction grants. To
receive these grants, counties must create a diverse strategy committee to develop a comprehensive plan of cost-effective measures to reduce crime and the
criminal justice costs associated with individuals with mental illness.27
Legislation also can prompt joint ventures through the establishment of
task forces, which bring together all relevant stakeholders and develop a foundation for future cross-system partnerships to improve the criminal justice
system’s response to people with mental illness. An increasing number of state
legislatures (and in some cases governors) have taken such steps.
For example, in Colorado, following several independent studies of mental
illness in the criminal justice population, the state general assembly created a
task force to examine how people with mental illness in the criminal justice
system are treated. This task force consisted of more than two dozen members,
including representatives from the judicial system, the corrections system, local law enforcement, mental health services, the legal community, consumers,
and family members of consumers. The general assembly also established a sixmember legislative oversight committee that monitors the work of the task
force and submits annual reports, including legislative proposals.28
Sometimes opportunities to engage potential partners and to form a core
group of prospective partners emerge from a high-visibility incident. A wellpublicized tragedy involving a person with a mental illness and the criminal
justice system often generates an atmosphere of crisis, in which elected officials
feel pressured to promote quick solutions, which are likely to overlook complex,
effective responses. Accordingly, decision makers should use such incidents to
stimulate follow-up responses that are long term and thoughtful. To that end,
in the wake of such tragedies, community and government leaders should ensure that organizations begin discussions about working together more closely.
A tragedy in Seminole County, Florida, in 1998 prompted such a response.
A deputy in the sheriff ’s office was shot and killed as he approached the residence of Alan Singletary, who had a history of mental illness and whose family
had for years sought help for him. After a 13-hour standoff, Singletary was also
killed. This tragic incident highlighted many of the deficiencies of Seminole
County’s mental health delivery systems that are common to many communities: inadequate coordination of services, lack of resources, and insufficient
information available to officers in the field and at the scene of a crisis. In

28. The task force was subsequently instructed to examine ways to improve the treatment of persons with mental
illness who are detained in pretrial detention facilities. The
task force was also instructed to examine the treatment of

18

mentally ill individuals in the juvenile justice system. See
www.state.co.us/gov_dir/leg_dir/lcsstaff/2001/
comsched/01MICJSsched.htm#committee

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

response, the sheriff established a task force that meets monthly to discuss
system coordination issues as well as potential legislative proposals. The task
force includes the state attorney, the public defender, probation officials, the
Seminole Community Mental Health Center, representatives of the judiciary
and the County Commission, and other various stakeholders. The slain deputy’s
widow, Linda Gregory, and Alan Singletary’s sister, Alice Petree, also serve on
this task force.

Defining the Scope of the Problem(s)
Once a core group of stakeholders has made a commitment to improve the
criminal justice and mental health systems’ response to individuals with mental
illness, they need to identify and focus their shared objectives. Leaders of successful partnerships state time and again that, long after launching their joint
venture, reminding each other of the mission that originally focused the initiative has enabled them to overcome disagreements or missteps that subsequently
threatened the collaboration.
In defining the problem, stakeholders may agree on a limited number of
discrete goals, and the problem-solving approach may require a partnership
between just two organizations. For example, in Connecticut, the court and the
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) focused their
attention on the inability of judges to obtain a mental health assessment of a
defendant or to gain access to mental health treatment for the defendant in a
timely manner. (In attempting to address the problem independently, judges
were ordering an examination for competency to stand trial, which resulted in
the hospitalization of the defendant for a minimum of three weeks.) The partnership between the judiciary and the DMHAS led to the deployment of mental
health clinicians to each court to conduct on-site assessments shortly after arrest and to arrange for treatment in the community as a condition of pretrial
release.
In some cases, agents of change may determine that the circumstances call
for a coalition comprising a diverse group of stakeholders spanning much of the
criminal justice and mental health systems. Such a coalition may be necessary
when the core group of stakeholders establishes that the problem is large in
scope and requires multiple responses. In other cases, leaders in the community may have succeeded in narrowly defining the problem, but they recognize
that potential responses (or the issue itself) are controversial and certain to
draw the attention of the media. In this event, a broad coalition ensures diverse
support for an initiative that could attract criticism.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

19

Introduction

Getting Started

The success of such groups depends, in part, on the number of stakeholders
involved and on the diversity of perspectives—including representatives of criminal justice and mental health entities from state and local government, private
mental health professionals, victims, advocates, and consumers and their families—committed to the coalition’s success.

Conducting a Community Audit
A community audit will enable criminal justice officials to identify the mental health system representatives in their jurisdiction—including large and small
service providers and those that serve isolated, ethnic, or low-income communities. In conducting this audit, partners should also identify providers outside of
the mental health community who deliver services to some of the same clients.
Drug treatment providers and low-income housing administrators are two examples.
Good sources for conducting the audit include larger mental health clearinghouses or providers, the Internet, the yellow pages, the news media, and staff
within the criminal justice agency. Criminal justice officials should also contact
agencies and organizations of which they are members, officers, board members,
or trustees. The audit should apply a snowball approach, where identified contacts are asked to contribute names of additional relevant stakeholders.
In addition to leads identified during the local audit, organizations with a
national perspective, including national membership associations, can provide
some additional valuable referrals.

Ensuring the Investment of the Principals
Whether part of a collaborative effort between just two organizations or a
member of a broad-based coalition, each organization should be represented by
the chief executive or his or her designee. Involvement by the principals signals to their subordinates and other stakeholders that the organization is committed to the initiative.
The chief executive for a police department (chief, sheriff, or public safety
director), the courts (presiding judge), the prosecutor’s office (district attorney),
the local jail, or another criminal justice entity is likely to be fairly obvious. The
lead individual in mental health circles, however, may be less apparent. Agents
of change should turn to existing cross sections of mental health organizations,
such as county-level mental health planning committees, for assistance in identifying an appropriate leader in the mental health community.

20

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

NEXT STEPS
With a coalition in place and the principals invested in improving the criminal justice system’s response to people with mental illness a window of opportunity now exists. Capitalizing on this momentum is essential. In this regard, the
subsequent chapters of this report can be extremely helpful. They provide a
thorough discussion of the opportunities available to law enforcement professionals, court officials, corrections administrators, and mental health providers
to identify and respond appropriately to people with mental illness.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

21

Part ONE:

Select Events on the
Criminal Justice
Continuum

he following section of the report

T

The flowchart on the next page serves

presents policy statements cor-

as a useful guide when reading part one.

responding to various events on

Each event addressed in the report appears

the criminal justice continuum. The report

on the flowchart in a blue bubble and is

does not address every possible event on

preceded by an Arabic numeral. Events

the continuum. Instead, particular events

that appear in clear bubbles are not spe-

were selected because of the opportunity

cifically addressed in the report (e.g., ac-

each presents to improve the response to

quittal). They are included in the flowchart

people with mental illness who are in con-

to help the reader follow the course of an

tact with (or at risk of coming in contact

individual's progress through the criminal

with) the criminal justice system.

justice system.

24

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

A Person with Mental Illness in the Criminal
Justice System: A Flowchart of Select Events
Chapter I

INVOLVEMENT WITH THE
MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM

1. Involvement with the Mental Health System

Chapter II

CONTACT WITH
LAW ENFORCEMENT

Crime / Incident
2. Request for Police Service
3. On-Scene Assessment
4. On-Scene Response
Arrest

Diversion

5. Incident Documentation

6. Police Response Evaluation

Chapter III

7. Appointment
of Counsel

8. Consultation
with Victim

9. Prosecutorial Review of Charges
(including decision whether to divert)

11. Pretrial Release/
Detention Hearing

10. Modification of Pretrial
Diversion Conditions

Violation of Pretrial
Diversion Conditions

Diversion

Violation of Pretrial
Diversion Conditions

Pretrial Release

PRETRIAL ISSUES,
ADJUDICATION,
AND SENTENCING

Rearrest; Subject
Proceeds to 13

12. Modification of Pretrial
Release Conditions
13. Intake at County/Municipal
Detention Facility
Conviction

15. Sentencing

14. Adjudication

Charges Dismissed

Not Guilty / Acquittal

Probation/
Supervised Release

16. Modification of
Conditions of Probation/
Supervised Release

Violation of Conditions
of Probation/
Supervised Resease

Rearrest; Subject
Proceeds to 13
Chapter IV

INCARCERATION
AND REENTRY

17. Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates

18. Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and Classification/Housing Decisions
19. Subsequent Referral for Screening and Mental Health Evaluation
20. Release Decision
21. Development of Transition Plan
Release

Community–Based
Supervision

22. Modification of
Conditions of Supervised
Release

Violation of Conditions of
Supervised Resease

23. Maintaining Contact Between Individual and Mental Health System

Rearrest; Subject
Proceeds to 13

CONTINUED INVOLVEMENT WITH
THE MENTAL HEALTH SYSTEM

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

25

CHAPTER I

Involvement with the
Mental Health System

L

aw enforcement officers, prosecutors,
defenders, and judges—people on the
front lines every day—believe too
many people with mental illness become involved in the criminal justice system because the mental health system has somehow
failed. They believe that if many of the people with
mental illness received the services they needed,
they would not end up under arrest, in jail, or facing charges in court. Mental health advocates, service providers, and administrators do not necessarily disagree. Like their counterparts in the criminal
justice system, they believe that the ideal mechanism to prevent people with mental illness from
entering the criminal justice system is the mental
health system itself—if it can be counted on to function effectively. They also know that in most places
the current system is overwhelmed and performing this preventive function poorly.
Policy Statement 1 and the recommendations
that follow describe the role that should be played

26

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

by the mental health system should play in helping people with mental illness avoid inappropriate
contact with the criminal justice system. For the
most part, they reflect general principles and do
not delve into areas of detail similar to those found
elsewhere in the report. Readers may know
whether the services described in this section are
available in their communities; if large numbers of
people with mental illness are in contact with the
criminal justice system, it is likely that necessary
services are lacking.
Chapter VII contains a comprehensive examination of the elements of an effective mental health
system, upon which implementation of many of the
policy statements throughout the report depend.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

27

Chapter I: Involvement with the Mental Health System

1

Policy Statement 1: Involvement with the Mental Health System

Involvement with the Mental Health System
POLICY STATEMENT #1

Improve availability of and access to comprehensive, individualized
services when and where they are most needed to enable people with
mental illness to maintain meaningful community membership and
avoid inappropriate criminal justice involvement.

There are communities across the country
where appropriate and necessary mental health services were never developed, have closed down, or
for some other reason are not available. In large cities, the wait for an appointment with a mental health
professional may be measured in months, while in
small rural communities the responsible agency may
be based in a town many miles across the county. In
either case, it cannot be said that mental health services are available when or where they are most
needed.
To be effective, services must meet the immediate needs of those who seek them. They must be
comprehensive, meaning they must be prepared to

address the full range of issues presented by an individual with mental illness. They must also be flexible enough to be tailored to each person who enters
the system. In highlighting the need for improved
access to mental health services, advocates, providers, and others in the mental health field frequently
use these two phrases. On first glance, these terms
may appear to be contradictory, but the two concepts
can be entirely complementary. A “no wrong door”
policy addresses the critical need to engage people
in care while a “single point of entry” is a mechanism for integrating services in response to an
individual’s complex needs. (See sidebars on the following pages for more on the concepts.)

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Provide user-friendly entry to the mental health system for those
who need services.

It is sometimes said that the mental health system has many doors—and
all of them are closed. To address this problem of access, some systems have
found it most effective to designate a single agency as the “gatekeeper” or controller of entry to the system. Depending on such variables as geography and
governmental structure, gatekeepers can take many forms. In some states, for

28

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

example, a county-based system may be structured so that a single multiservice
agency is responsible for all mental health services. By virtue of its “franchise,”
it becomes responsible for gatekeeping as well as for providing services. In
other states, multiple agencies may provide services, but one may be designated as the point of entry, with responsibility for linking each client to those
services appropriate to his or her needs. There are many manifestations of this
concept, but the organizing idea is to make entrance into the system as userfriendly as possible.
This kind of arrangement encourages service integration, cuts down on
conflicts and redundancies, and promotes more efficient use of resources. Most
of all, it works to create a pathway through the system that, ideally, delivers to
each client the mix of services that best meets his or her needs.

“Without better mental
health care, better partnerships and an improved
focus in criminal justice,
we can expect unacceptable outcomes to
continue...inappropriate
police encounters; unnecessary arrests and incarcerations; delayed release
from jails and prisons;
increased recidivism of
persons with mental illnesses to the criminal

Example: New York State Office of Mental Health

The New York State Office of Mental Health has asked local governments in the state to
establish a single point of entry (SPOE) system covering case management and housing services. Intended to coordinate services for individuals with multiple needs, the
SPOE system is intended to allow communities to build on the strengths of their
existing systems. In addition to the primary purpose of coordinating and integrating
services, SPOE provides a platform from which improved data collection can take place,
leading to identification of performance indicators for evaluating system outcomes.

justice system; and delayed or lack of needed
mental health treatment.”
MIKE HOGAN
Director, Ohio
Department of Mental
Health and Chair, New
Freedom Commission on
Mental Health
Source: U.S. House Committee

b

Expand priority service definitions to include more people with
mental illness who are at risk of criminal justice involvement or
who have histories of criminal justice involvement.

on the Judiciary, The Impact of
the Mentally Ill on the Criminal
Justice System. September 21
2001

One way many states have limited the potential cost of mental health
services is by identifying and defining a priority population for those services
and then targeting resources to that population. Only by meeting the priority
population definition can one access mental health services in most states.
Usually, the priority population has been defined by such characteristics as
diagnosis and functional limitation, which in theory translate easily to a hierarchy of need. Sometimes, however, focusing services on a priority population
has a perverse ancillary effect. The complicated diagnostic picture of many of
those who are homeless and/or coming into contact with the criminal justice
system at times pushes the boundaries of existing priority population definitions. Where financial or capacity pressures are straining the system, people
with complex problems are sometimes screened out in favor of those who “only”
have a mental illness that clearly fits within the priority definition.
Policymakers and providers need to address the questions of who falls
within the priority service population and what to do for those people with
serious problems who do not fit established priority categories. It is important
that policymakers recognize not just the growing potential of science, medicine,
and rehabilitative services, but also their limits. A thorough understanding of
these dynamics is difficult for policymakers to achieve, not the least because
this is an area in which change is occurring very rapidly. As science and mental

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

29

Chapter I: Involvement with the Mental Health System

Policy Statement 1: Involvement with the Mental Health System

health practices advance, policymakers will need to keep pace so that our systems are not—as they are in so many states today—artifacts of a time when far
less was known about mental illness and the treatments available for it.
One way to ensure that resources are available to serve people with complex problems who have typically been overlooked by the mental health system
and thus are at risk of involvement with the criminal justice system is simply to
identify them as a priority population and place them first in line for services
instead of last. To do this would mean targeting resources that do not now go to
this population. It is a very complicated task to find funding from a variety of
federal and state sources for the comprehensive treatment this population is
likely to need. Because practice in many places has been to ignore this population and therefore to avoid grappling with the difficulties involved with treating them, expansion of the priority service definition will need to be closely
monitored for effectiveness as well as such unintended consequences as the
deprioritizing of other needy groups.
Indeed, the possible consequence of expanding the priority population that
most alarms advocates, consumers, and many others with a stake in the system is that services for people with mental illness who are law-abiding, adherent to treatment, and in many ways less obvious to those outside the system
will fall in priority or even be supplanted by those for the “criminal justice”
population. With mandates to serve more difficult patients and no increase in
overall mental health system resources, this is one very possible outcome. It is
an outcome to be avoided because this law-abiding population, easier to serve
though they may be, has been less apparent precisely because the system has
worked effectively for them.
Example: Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration

In developing services for people with mental illness who have been in county jails,
Maryland’s Mental Hygiene Administration, the state’s public mental health authority,
arrived at the assumption that one population was being served, regardless of an
individual’s history of incarceration. Such issues as treatment for mental illness or
substance abuse as well as the need for housing were substantially the same for those
who had been jailed as they were for others in the mental health system. By automatically including people with mental illness and histories of jail time in the priority
population, Mental Hygiene Administration officials found they were able to deliver
services more effectively, while at the same time reducing recidivism to local jails.

c

Improve access to appropriate services by people with mental illness who are at risk of criminal justice involvement.

People with mental illness do not always seek treatment in the same way
someone suffering from acute physical pain might. Sometimes they don’t know
where to turn for help, or perhaps they don’t realize they need it. In fact, some-

1. See National GAINS Center, Courage to Change: A
Guide for Communities to Create Integrated Services for
People with Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System,
December, 1999, p. 12

30

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

No Wrong Door
No wrong door refers to a service
system that welcomes people in
need wherever they try to gain
access. Persons with mental illness often have a broad array of
associated health, social service,
and support needs. Not knowing
the mission of an agency or the
relationship between agencies,
they may present different providers with any one of a number
of concerns. “No wrong door”
policies commit all service agencies to respond to the individual’s
stated and assessed needs
through either direct service or
linkage to appropriate programs,
as opposed to sending the person from one agency to another
until he is able to establish a connection with the system. Many
people with mental illness lack
the capacity to navigate the complicated array of services or they
may feel rejected in their efforts
to obtain help. Discouraged, they
simply drop out of the system and
join the ranks of untreated, homeless people with mental illness
who come into frequent contact
with the criminal justice system.
A no wrong door policy accepts
that the first step toward successful mental health care is engaging the individual. 1

times they actively avoid it. For this reason, providers of mental health services
must be creative and opportunistic in their approach to some who are in need of
treatment.
For many, the mental health system is invisible and unknown. A person
who shows signs of a mental illness may have no idea where to call for information or treatment. More shockingly, family doctors and other professionals in
the community may be unfamiliar with local mental health agencies. Mental
health providers need to maintain and improve community contacts so that
finding help is an easily navigated process. Referrals from other agencies—
housing and homeless assistance agencies or substance abuse treatment and
detox centers, for example—should be welcomed by mental health providers.
Rather than apply rigorous screening so that all but a few are excluded from
the system, mental health providers should actively seek out cases. To serve a
community effectively, public mental health agencies should be as visible and
active as any health care resource.
When the affected individual doesn’t realize help is needed, a family member or someone else in the community may reach out to a provider agency. In
such instances, the agency should be responsive. If the individual will not go to
the agency’s intake facility, outreach staff from the agency should visit the person wherever he or she is and, if appropriate, they should be able to access
acute care hospital beds or crisis intervention services. Similarly, if the person
is homeless or without apparent social support, agency staff should make efforts—repeated, if necessary—to engage him or her in a setting where that
individual is most comfortable.
For outreach to be effective, it must be done in a culturally appropriate
manner. Certainly, an outreach specialist must be able to use the individual’s
primary language. Yet, as has been increasingly understood throughout the
mental health system, cultural competency involves the ability to listen to each
individual and pick up cues that are culturally based. By meeting an individual’s
needs in a culturally sensitive manner, providers significantly increase the likelihood that that person will accept and continue services.

d

Single Point of Entry
A single point of entry is a
mechanism for ensuring an individual gets the appropriate range
of services. The "single point of
entry" system accepts the burden
of integrating services rather then
placing that burden on the individual. It places responsibility
with a designated agency to oversee each client's movements
through the different services and
programs available in a given
community. The care that person
needs can then be coordinated,
even when more than one agency
is involved in providing it. An
individual with multiple needs
who seeks care in a community
with a "no wrong door" policy may
be referred to a "single point of
entry."

Identify specific needs of individuals with mental illness who are
at risk of criminal justice involvement or who have histories of
criminal justice involvement and match services to those needs.

Each individual has needs that are particular to him or her. While the
central need may be treatment for serious mental illness, other needs are frequently associated with it, including treatment for alcohol or substance abuse;
treatment for HIV/AIDS or other illnesses or disorders; affordable housing; income assistance; and/or employment services. Not all needs are immediately
evident, so a full assessment should be undertaken. This may certainly be focused on the need for mental health treatment and services, but it should by no
means be limited exclusively to that arena. The use of illicit substances by a

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

31

Chapter I: Involvement with the Mental Health System

Policy Statement 1: Involvement with the Mental Health System

person with mental illness markedly increases his or her risk of contact with
the criminal justice system and must be assessed. The presence or absence of
various supports in a person’s life should always be thoroughly understood by
treatment providers who are designing treatment plans. Similarly, as much as
possible should be learned about the individual’s history of treatment and incarceration. Not only will knowledge of this history be helpful in gaining a broad
understanding of a person’s condition and status, it could help in forging links
with past or even current providers who can offer further insight useful in treatment. In building a person’s history, mental health professionals should also
try to learn whether or not the subject has been the victim of physical or sexual
abuse. Understanding this part of a person’s history can help immeasurably in
designing effective services for that person.
Mental health treatment interventions are most effective when they are
tailored to an individual’s particular needs. It is clear that provider agencies
must be staffed and organized to provide multiple interrelated services to the
individuals they serve. For example, mental health agencies in many places
have added staff expertise in the social supports needed by many clients with
serious mental illness precisely so that services tailored to meet those needs
can be offered. Substance abuse expertise is needed to address the large percentage of persons with co-occurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders. By providing an array of services that can be tailored to each individual’s
needs, agencies are more likely to keep clients engaged, enabling many to develop the skills or contacts necessary for them to live successfully in the community.
Ideally, the public mental health system should function as part of a broader
public health system that identifies problems in their early stages and takes
steps to prevent their exacerbation. To do this effectively, the system must include a full array of services, including linkage with community resources traditionally seen as residing outside the mental health system. A community in
which a full range of services is not available will find itself facing preventable
problems, evident in the numbers of encounters between people with mental
illness and components of the criminal justice system.
When clients find the services they receive to be helpful and meaningful,
they are far more likely to continue them. For many people with mental illness,
developing this sense of connection is extremely important. Because individually tailored services lead to more sustained engagement in mental health treatment, they are a critical link in preventing inappropriate criminal justice involvement.
A person with mental illness needs to gain access to appropriate services
repeatedly. Services are successful only if they are sustained over time. A provider agency’s role, therefore, does not end with identifying services and providing referrals. Success of an intervention often rests on the level of support provided to a person with mental illness who is striving to follow his or her treatment
plan. For the difficult-to-engage person who is most at risk for criminal justice
involvement, this kind of support can often be quite intensive. Frequently, it

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

means repeated outreach to the individual, often through such treatment models as Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) or intensive case management.
For very ill individuals, it can mean access to acute care and inpatient services
when needed. And it cannot be emphasized enough that such support must go
well beyond purely treatment-related needs to supports such as housing, employment or education assistance, and transportation—supports that will enhance the likelihood of a person living successfully in the community.

e

Draw funding for mental health services from a variety of public
sources.

Delivery of comprehensive mental health services at the community level
requires a significant investment of public resources. Effective community mental health service providers have learned that they must draw from a variety of
sources if they are to offer a full spectrum of services. As discussed later in this
document, funding for mental health treatment and associated supports in a
typical community may come from several different federal agencies, state general fund allocations, and local tax levies.
Resourceful administrators have learned how to use scant state and local
funds to leverage money from other sources and to maximize revenues from
federal programs such as Medicaid. They look to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for funds to provide housing for their clients, and
they try to join federal block grant funds for mental health and substance abuse
treatment with other sources in order to provide integrated services for cooccurring substance abuse and mental disorders. Even the most artful administrators at the provider, county, or state system levels have difficulty matching
resources to need. While agencies and systems survive by identifying and tapping a range of sources, the inescapable conclusion is that funding limitations
in many communities prevent the public mental health system from making a
full range of effective services available.
Broad implementation of the kinds of comprehensive, individualized services briefly described in this section—services that have been successfully implemented in some communities around the country—will result in fewer people
with mental illness coming into contact with the criminal justice system. Provision of necessary treatments and supports is the most effective “precontact”
diversion from the criminal justice system for people with mental illness.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

33

CHAPTER II

Contact with
Law Enforcement

L

aw enforcement engaged in today’s
community policing efforts inevitably
provide citizens with services that go
well beyond enforcing laws or maintaining public safety and order. Police are firstline, around-the-clock, emergency responders, mediators, referral agents, counselors, youth mentors,
crime prevention actors, and much more. Among
their growing responsibilities have been responding to people with mental illness. All too often, individuals’ inadequately treated mental illness is
manifested in ways that can result in their contact
with police—sometimes with tragic results.
What may begin as a call from a business
owner to “do something” about the unkempt young
man pacing in front of his store, or community demands to keep individuals from sleeping on park
benches—to the more extreme 9-1-1 report from a
frightened caller that his or her loved one is threatening to hurt someone, or him-or-herself—will
prompt a police response that can result in myriad
outcomes. Officers on patrol will themselves encounter those who seem to be in crisis or are in
violation of some “quality-of-life” law, such as urinating in public or sleeping in doorways. How po34

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

lice respond to such individuals can have a tremendous impact on how encounters will be resolved and
on what future these individuals can expect.
Many sections of this report focus on partnerships among criminal justice agencies, as well as
between police and mental health professionals.
Those partnerships may, indeed, have the greatest
impact on police than on any other component of
the criminal justice system. For it is police who will
often provide the first contact with the criminal
justice system for people with mental illness. Their
actions and perceptions will often determine
whether the individual will find much-needed treatment, continue in his or her current situation, or
face the problems detailed in later sections that are
inherent in a criminal justice system ill prepared
to meet the needs of people with mental illness.
Police response at this critical first encounter
will be shaped by whether they perceive a person’s
mental illness as a factor in the call for service; their
knowledge of de-escalation techniques at the scene;
and their understanding of when the nature of the
crime necessitates criminal justice action or
whether it is better to engage appropriate alterna-

tive resources. These and other decisions involve
complex skills, knowledge, and other factors addressed in this chapter. But police simply cannot
achieve meaningful reforms alone, no matter how
well trained. They will need the kind of community-based mental health improvements, partnerships, and support outlined in this report if they
are to have any success at all.
As mentioned earlier, it is the most sensational
incidents, in which a person with mental illness
kills an officer or citizen or is killed by police, that
seem to shape policy, even though they are not the
majority of cases that police see. In no way does
this report minimize the importance of officer and
public safety—they are of paramount importance.
In fact, the policies outlined in this report are intended to prevent critical incidents through effective, earlier interventions. It also acknowledges
those cases in which arrest is very appropriate, as
with serious crimes. In those cases, the offender
should be in the criminal justice system. This chapter, however, focuses most on what current policy
often misses: the overwhelming number of cases in
which minor nuisance crimes are largely the re-

sult of an individual’s inadequately treated mental
illness (and often co-occurring drug/alcohol abuse).
These result in large drains on police resources,
and often without any long-term solutions, for police, people with mental illness, or crime victims.
This report is meant to address some of those gaps
with practical guidelines for police professionals.
The following sections acknowledge that police cannot be diagnosticians or pseudo-mental
health professionals—but they can help stabilize a
situation, work to keep all involved parties safe (including responding officers), make effective referrals when appropriate, and improve the lives of
people with mental illnesses and their loved ones
by keeping them out of a system ill equipped to meet
their needs. The policy statements and recommendations for implementation are meant to be tailored
to the unique needs and resources of a community
and police agency. They were developed to make
more efficient and effective use of police resources.
Most of all, they are designed to support all those
police personnel who want to do the right thing, as
part of their commitment to treat all citizens with
dignity and fairness and to serve all members of
their community.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

35

Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

2

Policy Statement 2: Request for Police Ser vice

Request for Police Service
POLICY STATEMENT #2

Provide dispatchers with tools to determine whether mental illness
may be a factor in a call for service and to use that information to
dispatch the call to the appropriate responder.

Requests for police service generally come in
one of two ways: through a personal contact with an
officer who happens to be near the scene or through
a call to the department. This section concerns calls
that are made to law enforcement agencies and
handled by a dispatcher. The dispatcher is responsible for gathering information about the situation
and dispatching the call to a patrol officer. The dispatch function can be managed by the police department alone or through a system shared with other
emergency services.

While some law enforcement agencies will not
have the power to affect dispatch policy directly, due
to constraints such as shared dispatch, they may be
able to change procedures through dispatcher training and memoranda of understanding between the
police and dispatch service. The following recommendations address important dispatch protocols
that should include policies for information gathering regarding whether mental illness is a factor in
the call and the potential for violence, and using appropriate language when dispatching calls.1

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Provide dispatchers with questions that help determine whether
mental illness is relevant to the call for service.

Determining that mental illness is a factor in a call for service is an essential first step to providing appropriate police response. The person with a mental illness may be a crime victim, an offender, a witness, or involved in a mental
health crisis. Dispatchers should use standardized questions to aid the information-gathering process. These questions can appear on the computer screen
or be provided in booklet format. These questions should also assess, when
1. Law enforcement agencies should document information about mental illness only when it is relevant to the
encounter. Agencies should not develop databases that contain information about all people with mental illness in
their community.

36

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

possible, if co-occurring disorders (especially involving substance abuse) or other
issues are relevant to the call for service. Departments should collaborate with
mental health providers to determine the appropriate questions dispatchers
should ask callers.
Example: Pinellas County (FL) Police Department

Communications center personnel at Pinellas County Police Department receive training from the Mental Health Commission of Pinellas County on interacting with callers
who may have mental illness. This training ensures that dispatchers are able to
identify characteristics of mental illness and better inform responding officers.

Example: Houston (TX) Police Department

The Houston Police Department provides specialized training to its dispatchers to
enable call takers to determine if the call involves a person with mental illness. This
program has been combined with officer training to significantly reduce the time
between the call for service and the officer arrival at the scene and to decrease the
average time that people with mental illness spend in police custody.

b

Provide dispatchers with tools that determine whether the situation involves violence or weapons.

As in all calls, dispatchers should gather information to assess safety issues that the responding officer might encounter, including whether weapons
are involved, whether the person poses a danger, if the person with mental
illness is at risk of being victimized, and whether there is a history of violence.
To further facilitate effective information gathering, some departments “flag”
certain locations in the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system. These flags
appear when a repeat call for service is made to that location. The dispatcher
then reads the text of the “flag” when dispatching the call to provide additional
information to the responding officers. These flags are placed only on those call
locations that pose a particular threat or unresolved problem, such as potential
for violence or as a repeat location. Personnel are designated to review these
flags periodically to ensure a need for each flag remains.
Example: Baltimore County (MD) Police Department

In the Baltimore County Police Department, supervisors make written requests to the
communications center to place a flag on certain locations where police have responded to repeat calls for service or where there is a significant potential for violence—as determined by knowledge of weapons in the home, previous reports of
violence, or other information. These flags are used for a wide variety of calls, not just
those related to mental health issues.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

37

Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

c

Policy Statement 2: Request for Police Ser vice

Provide dispatchers with a flowchart to facilitate dispatch of the
call to designated personnel.

Dispatchers should be given a flowchart that states clearly who should
respond when calls for service may involve people with mental illnesses. Dispatchers should provide all of the essential information to the appropriate responding officer, including whether mental illness may be a factor, so that officers are able to respond effectively to a call for service.

d

Use designated codes and appropriate language when dispatching
the call.

Some agencies use a code system when dispatching calls for service over
the radio, others use what is called “plain speech,” and still others use a combination of the two. Some may be concerned that information broadcast over the
radio violates the privacy of the person who is the subject of the call and who
may have a mental illness. The police department does have an obligation,
however, to provide officers with meaningful information on the type of call to
which he or she is responding as a means of protecting the safety of both the
officer and the consumer. To reduce possible harm that could come to the person who is the subject of the call, dispatchers and officers should avoid the use
of slang terms and use only designated codes and/or appropriate language when
communicating over the radio. Department personnel should concentrate on
describing the person’s behavior rather than guessing at a diagnosis or using a
label that carries with it stigma and potentially misleading information.

38

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

39

Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

3

Policy Statement 3: On-Scene Assessment

On-Scene Assessment
POLICY STATEMENT #3

Develop procedures that require officers to determine whether mental illness is a factor in the incident and whether a serious crime has
been committed—while ensuring the safety of all involved parties.

The police encounter people with mental illness
of all ages in five general situations: as a victim of a
crime; as a witness to a crime; as the subject of a
nuisance call; as a possible offender; and as a danger to themselves or others. It is also true that the
person with a mental illness may fall into more than
one category at a time. It is critical for the officer
who responds to the scene to recognize whether
mental illness may be a factor in the incident, and
to what extent, before deciding which response is
best.
Several different approaches have been developed to enable officers to effectively assess situations involving people with mental illnesses that
both reduce their contacts with the criminal justice
system and ensure on-scene safety. The safety of all
involved parties—the victim, person with mental
illness, family members, bystanders and, police—is
of paramount importance. The desired outcome of
these contacts should be problem resolution that
entails fair and dignified treatment of people with
mental illness.
The first step for law enforcement in developing protocols is to learn about successful approaches
adopted by other law enforcement agencies. A group
of key stakeholders should be designated as a plan-

40

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

ning group to investigate and assess the different
responses so that community leaders can develop
response protocols that meet the unique needs of
the community. (For more information on these committees, see the discussion in this report’s Introduction as well as Chapter VI: Improving Collaboration.)
Planning groups can accomplish this research and
investigation using a variety of sources, including
reviewing the literature; speaking with other law
enforcement agencies about their promising approaches and any barriers to their success; or attending the training of a department that employs a
response that could be effective in their community.
Approaches to consider include the following.
They may be adapted to the specific needs of a community.
“

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT). The CIT
approach employs specially trained uniformed
officers to act as primary or secondary responders to every call in which mental illness
is a factor. Ideally, officers are chosen to participate based on their willingness to enhance
services to people with mental illness within
the community. CIT officers are available for
each shift to provide assistance to consumers
and their families and to facilitate emergency
mental health assessments.

“

“

“

Comprehensive Advanced Response.
This response model can be described as a traditional response modified by mandating advanced, 40-hour training for all officers within
the department. Some of the departments that
use this approach address responses to people
with mental illness as part of their training
and responses to “special populations.”
Mental health professionals who co-respond. Some law enforcement agencies hire
licensed mental health workers as secondary
responders. These civilians serve in units that
are either located in the police department—
where civilian workers are under the chief ’s
supervision—or reside outside the department because staffing is shared with other
county or city mental health providers. These
civilian workers may either ride along with
officers in special teams or respond when
called by an officer after the scene has been
secured for various crisis calls, including those
involving people with mental illness. The civilian employees are responsible for developing relationships with community-based organizations and finding available services
within the community.
Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) co-responders.
Generally, Mobile Crisis Teams are composed
of civilian personnel employed by mental
health organizations, who are licensed mental health professionals. For an effective, safe

response, MCTs should act only as secondary
responders who are called out once the scene
has been secured by law enforcement. Law
enforcement officers call MCTs if it is believed
that there is a person involved who may be a
danger to him- or herself or others, or if the
person needs services. Also, in some jurisdictions, if no crime has been committed, MCTs
can provide transport to a mental health facility (if it appears the person might meet the
criteria for civil commitment) or other services
(such as counseling or drug treatment). MCT
personnel are knowledgeable about criteria
for involuntary commitment, bring extensive
information to the scene, and are able to provide follow-up services.
Regardless of the particular approach chosen,
the officers must ensure the following: stabilize the
scene; recognize signs or symptoms of mental illness; determine whether a serious crime has been
committed; consult with personnel who have mental health expertise; and, when indicated, determine
whether the person might meet the criteria for emergency evaluation. Once these determinations have
been made, the responders must decide what, if any,
action should follow. (See Policy Statement 4: OnScene Response; also Policy Statement 28: Training
for Law Enforcement Personnel).

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Stabilize the scene using deescalation techniques appropriate for
people with mental illness.

Officers should approach and interact with people who may have mental
illness with a calm, non-threatening manner, while also protecting the safety of
all involved. Several de-escalation techniques (see Table 1) have been shown to
assist in calming a person who is not rational or who is experiencing an emotional crisis.
Most people with mental illness are not violent, but for their own safety
and the safety of others officers should be aware that some people with mental

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 3: On-Scene Assessment

Table 1. Deescalation Techniques

Officers should do the following:
“
“

“

Remain calm and avoid overreacting.

“

Move suddenly, giving rapid orders or shouting.

Provide or obtain on-scene emergency aid when treatment
of an injury is urgent.

“

Force discussion.

“

Maintain direct, continuous eye contact.

“

Touch the person (unless essential to safety).

“

Crowd the person or move into his or her zone of comfort.

“

Express anger, impatience, or irritation.

“

Assume that a person who does not respond cannot hear.

Follow procedures indicated on medical alert bracelets or
necklaces.

“

Indicate a willingness to understand and help.

“

Speak simply and briefly, and move slowly.

“

“
“

“

“

“

Remove distractions, upsetting influences, and disruptive
people from the scene.

“

Understand that a rational discussion may not take place.
Recognize that the person may be overwhelmed by
sensations, thoughts, frightening beliefs, sounds
(“voices”), or the environment.

“
“

Use inflammatory language, such as “crazy,” “psycho,”
“mental,” or “mental subject.”
Challenge delusional or hallucinatory statements.
Mislead the person to believe that officers on the scene
think or feel the way the person does.

Be friendly, patient, accepting, and encouraging, but
remain firm and professional.
Be aware that a uniform, gun, and handcuffs may frighten
the person with mental illness, and reassure the person
that no harm is intended.
Recognize and acknowledge that a person’s delusional or
hallucinatory experience is real to him or her.

“

Announce actions before initiating them.

“

Gather information from family or bystanders.

“

Officers should not do the following:

If the person is experiencing a psychiatric crisis, ask that
a representative of a local mental health organization
respond to the scene.

“I try to be as calm as I
can around police, but I
can’t always. Just the
sight of a police officer

illness who are agitated and possibly deluded or paranoid may act erratically,
sometimes violently. If the person is acting erratically, but not directly threatening any other person or him-or herself, such an individual should be given
time to calm down. Violent outbursts are usually of short duration. It is better
that the officer spend 15 or 20 minutes waiting and talking than to spend five
minutes struggling to subdue the person.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

scares me to this day.”
CAROL TRAXLER
consumer
Source: Serious Mental Ill-

nesses and the People Who Are
Affected By Them: An Educational
Videotape for Law Enforcement
Officers, 1992, Alliance for the
Mentally Ill of Rhode Island

b

Recognize signs or symptoms that may indicate that mental illness
is a factor in the incident.

The officer responding to the scene is not expected to diagnose any specific
mental illness but is expected to recognize symptoms that may indicate that
mental illness is a factor in the incident. Symptoms of different mental illnesses
include, but are not limited to, those listed in Table 2. Many of these symptoms
represent internal, emotional states that are not readily observable from outward appearances, though they may become noticeable in conversation with
the individual.
In addition to the symptoms outlined in Table 2, some specific types of
behavior may also be signs of mental illness. These behaviors can include severe changes in behavior, unusual or bizarre mannerisms, hostility or distrust,
one-sided conversations, confused or nonsensical verbal communication. Officers may also notice inappropriate behavior, such as wearing layers of clothing
in the summer. It should be noted that these behaviors can also be associated
with cultural and personality differences, other medical conditions, drug or alcohol abuse, or reactions to very stressful situations. As such, the presence of
these behaviors should not be treated as conclusive proof of mental illness. They
are provided only as a framework to aid those police officers who must under-

Table 2. Signs and Symptoms of Mental Illness

“

seeing or hearing things but can involve any of the senses
(e.g., a person may feel bugs crawling on his or her body;
smell gas that is being used to kill him or her; taste
poison in his or her food; hear voices telling him or her to
do something; or see visions of God, the dead, or horrible
things).

Loss of memory/disorientation. Temporary or

permanent memory losses may be symptoms of a
disturbance. This is not the common forgetting of
everyday things, but rather the failure to remember the
day, year, where one is, or other obvious personal
information.
“

Delusions. These are false beliefs that are not based in

reality. They can cause a person to view the world from a
unique or peculiar perspective. The individual will often
focus on persecution (e.g., believes others are trying to
harm him or her) or grandeur (person believes he or she
is God, very wealthy, a famous person, or possesses a
special talent or beauty).
“

“

Depression. Depression involves deep feelings of
sadness, hopelessness, or uselessness.

“

and speaking or hyperactivity with no apparent need for
sleep and sometimes accompanied by delusions of
grandeur.
“

Anxiety. Feelings of anxiety are intense and seemingly

unfounded. The person is in a state of panic or fright;
may have trembling hands, dry mouth, or sweaty palms; or
may be “frozen” with fear.
“

Incoherence. A person may have difficulty expressing

him-or herself clearly and exhibit disconnected ideas or
thought patterns.

Hallucinations. It is not unusual for some people with

mental illness to hear voices, or to see, smell, taste, or
feel imaginary things. The person experiences events that
have no objective source, but that are nonetheless real to
him or her. The most common hallucinations involve

Manic behavior. Mania involves accelerated thinking

“

Response. People with mental illness may process

information more slowly than expected.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 3: On-Scene Assessment

stand what questions to ask and to decide what services, resources, or support
are needed to resolve the cause of the incident. Officers should obtain additional information at the scene from family, friends, or health professionals
who are familiar with the individual’s behavior.
Officers should be aware that substance abuse disorders can mimic many
mental disorders; substance use can mask many mental disorders; and some
somatic disorders, such as diabetes or Parkinson’s, may seem to be mental and/
or substance abuse disorders. To complicate matters, the co-occurrence of mental illness and substance abuse is also quite common (see Policy Statement 37:
Co-occurring disorders). Due to the complexity of this diagnostic task, it will
often be impossible for law enforcement officers to distinguish mental illness
from substance abuse disorders. The officer who has observed unusual or erratic behavior should bring the individual to an assessment site that is capable
of making an accurate determination of its cause.
Studies have shown that the potential for violence increases considerably
when people with mental illnesses use alcohol or drugs.2 For this reason, officers should be observant and note any signs (e.g., bottles, drug paraphernalia) of
substance or alcohol use. At the same time, maintenance of a calm demeanor
and use of de-escalation techniques can help to prevent violent behavior.
Officers will need to attend to the medication needs of some individuals
with mental illness. If the encounter lasts for some time, or a person is being
detained, people with mental illnesses may need access to their medication.
Officers must follow departmental rules for verifying that any pills or capsules
the person is carrying are prescribed, or to obtain the needed medication, so
that they may authorize the individual to continue the prescribed treatment.
Police officers should be aware that some medications that treat mental
illnesses have side effects that may also require attention. For example, medications may cause tremors, nausea, extreme lethargy, confusion, dry mouth,
constipation, or diarrhea. Police officers should attend to needs for water, food,
and access to toilet facilities. It is important not to mistake these side effects as
evidence of alcohol or drug use.

c

Determine whether a serious crime has been committed.

No individual should be arrested for behavioral manifestations of mental
illness that are not criminal in nature. Arrest is generally appropriate when a
felony has been committed or when the person has outstanding warrants. Arrest is also appropriate in cases in which the officer would normally make an
arrest if the person did not have a mental illness, and if the current signs of
mental illness are minor or not related to the violation.
In cases where the person with a mental illness has come to the attention
of the police because of behaviors that result from the mental illness or nui-

2. H. Steadman et al., "Violence by People Discharged
from Acute Psychiatric Inpatient Facilities," pp. 393-401.

44

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

sance violations, officers should engage referral mechanisms to mental health
services and supports to address the mental illness in lieu of arresting the individual and engaging the criminal justice system. (See Policy Statement 4: OnScene Response, for more on referral mechanisms.)

"Each time a person with
mental illness is killed by
police it has tragic consequences for everyone involved—the person with
mental illness, their loved

d

Consult personnel with expertise in mental illness to enhance successful incident management.

On-scene expertise in mental illnesses and their manifestations is critical
to effective incident management. This expertise can be provided by primary
or secondary on-scene responders who are specially trained police officers or
mental health professionals.
The following examples highlight the ways that departments around the
country have chosen to include this type of expertise. As described previously,
these include Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs), the comprehensive advanced
approach, mental health professionals who corespond, and Mobile Crisis Teams
(MCTs). The basic difference in these models is whether expertise is provided
by police officers who are trained extensively in mental health issues, or by
mental health professionals who either co-respond with law enforcement or
respond after the scene has been secured. While mental health professionals
are likely more knowledgeable than patrol officers about involuntary commitment laws and bring additional, perhaps confidential, data to the scene, they
are not always available. (See Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information for
more on agreements between mental health and criminal justice agencies.)
Examples of approaches that use specially trained police officers to supply
on-scene expertise—either as a special team or as the whole department—follow:

ones, and the police officer. Improving law
enforcement's knowledge
and skills in responding to
individuals with mental
illness can prevent many
of these deaths."
CHIEF ROBERT OLSON
Minneapolis, MN

Crisis Intervention Team
Example: Memphis (TN) Police Department

In a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) approach found in the Memphis Police Department, uniformed officers, specially trained in mental health issues, act as primary or
secondary responders to every call involving people with mental illnesses. CIT officers
are available on every shift and are also available to mental health clients (consumers) and their families. The Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Department, The Roanoke,
Virginia, Police Department and the Houston, Texas, Police Department are among
numerous agencies across the country that have also adopted the CIT approach.

Comprehensive Advanced Response
Example: Athens-Clarke County (GA) Police Department

In a comprehensive response, the Athens-Clarke County Police Department decided
that its small size precluded the formation of a specialized team to respond to calls
for service involving people with mental illness. Accordingly, the department decided
that every officer would attend the advanced 40-hour crisis intervention training and
thus be able to respond appropriately to these calls.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 3: On-Scene Assessment

Mental health professionals who co-respond
Example: Birmingham (AL) Police Department

The Birmingham Police Department uses a Community Service Officer (CSO) Unit,
which is attached to the Patrol Division. The unit is composed of social workers who
respond directly to an incident location when requested by an officer. They serve a
variety of populations, including people with mental illness. The CSOs are also certified law enforcement academy trainers and work closely with community groups and
other components of the criminal justice system.

Example: Long Beach (CA) Mental Evaluation Team

In this program, a patrol officer from Long Beach Police Department is accompanied
by a clinician to respond ten hours a day, seven days a week, to calls for service
involving people with mental illness. The clinician provides on-scene assessment of
the individual’s mental health needs and ensures admission into a mental health
facility, if necessary. This approach prevents unnecessary incarceration of people
with mental illnesses.

Example: San Diego County (CA) Sheriff’s Office

The Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) approach used by the San Diego
County Sheriff’s Office pairs a licensed mental health clinician with an officer or
deputy in a marked car to respond to situations determined by the dispatcher or
another officer to involve a person suspected of having a mental illness that is a factor
in the incident. These teams conduct mental health assessments and process referrals to county providers if appropriate.

Mobile Crisis Team
Example: Anne Arundel County (MD) Police Department

The Anne Arundel County Police Department has arranged for access to a team of
crisis workers from a local mental health center that works seven days a week. The
responding officer must determine if a Mobile Crisis Team is warranted at the scene
and will call accordingly.

There are several important differences between the approaches that involve mental health professionals. One main difference is how the mental health
professional is paid and supervised, usually either through the police department or through the county mental health agency. For example, in Birmingham the social worker is located in the police department and is under the
direct supervision of the chief, while in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the
mobile crisis team members are paid by a mental health organization. Another
difference is whether the mental health agent works in a team with the officer,
or responds as a separate unit. An additional distinction is whether the civilian
workers respond to a variety of calls for service beyond those involving people
with mental illnesses, such as domestic violence. Yet, in all models, the mental
health professional is responsible for understanding community resources and
finding services within the community.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Successful incident management is often dependent on information about
the person’s current and past behavior. If it is not possible to obtain this information from the person with mental illness or a responding professional, sometimes it can be obtained at the scene from those who are close to the person, and
who are familiar with the situation and with the person’s history.
In those rare events when a person’s life or the life of a bystander is in
jeopardy, in addition to following standard crisis procedures, law enforcement
should also formally call on specially trained mental health professionals for
assistance in resolving the critical incident. (See Policy Statement 4: On-Scene
Response, for more information on handling critical incidents.) Law enforcement personnel should protect the confidentiality of medical or mental health
information to avoid disclosures (see Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information) and should follow protocols for written documentation provided in Policy
Statement 5: Incident Documentation.

e

Determine, when warranted, whether the person may meet the
state criteria for emergency evaluation.

The criteria for emergency evaluation are similar from state to state, although there is some variation in how they are interpreted. It is not the role of
the police officer to make the sole determination that a person should be committed. However, being familiar with the criteria will help officers decide whether
to detain the person and transport him or her for an emergency mental evaluation. This is not an arrest. Officers should be alert to the behaviors, actions,
and speech of the person so that they can determine whether specific indicators
of the criteria apply. Officers should also familiarize themselves with state law
concerning emergency evaluation.
Most patients who receive inpatient or outpatient services for mental illness do so voluntarily. That is, when presented with their options—including
the possibility of involuntary commitment—they choose to enter a hospital or
to follow a course of outpatient treatment suggested by treatment professionals. In fact, in some states you cannot commit someone who is willing to admit
him- or herself voluntarily. For a significant minority, however, there are times
when involuntary commitment becomes the only available avenue to services
and the surest way to ensure the safety of the person involved. Involuntary
commitment involves deprivation of personal freedom and can be an indignity
to the person being committed. In addition, it requires the participation of numerous professionals (including the certifying doctor, attorneys representing
both the accepting facility and the patient, and a judge). For these reasons and
the simple reality that commitment takes considerable time, in the majority of
cases most clinicians will seek to offer voluntary admission to services before
considering involuntary commitment.

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 3: On-Scene Assessment

Every state has a law that provides a clear path for those cases in which a
person must be involuntarily committed to treatment. While the laws vary to
some degree, they all attempt to define circumstances under which a person’s
unsupervised presence in the community poses a risk by reason of his or her
mental illness. In almost all cases, it is the likelihood of a person’s dangerousness to self or to others that is the primary trigger for involuntary commitment.
In several states, the mental health law also includes language defining what is
broadly known as the “gravely disabled” criterion, which is meant to cover instances in which a person’s well-being is threatened by inattention to personal
safety, failure to eat, exposure to extreme or dangerous conditions, or other
evidence that he or she is in imminent danger if left untreated. Some state
statutes also note a “need for treatment” or likelihood that a person will benefit
from treatment as one of many criteria for commitment. Additionally, the laws
covering involuntary commitment are subject to interpretation and, it should
be noted, continued debate within the mental health community.
Traditionally, the treatment to which a person is involuntarily committed
is provided in a secure inpatient facility. State law generally charges the department of mental health or its equivalent with regulating facilities to which
involuntary commitment is possible. Not all hospitals are licensed to receive
involuntary patients (although this does not always restrict their ability to conduct emergency evaluations). In addition, reimbursement issues may limit admission to some hospitals. It is important for law enforcement officers and
others who might become involved in involuntary commitment proceedings to
know which facilities are able to admit involuntary patients.
In some states, involuntary commitment to outpatient services is also possible under the law. As with involuntary inpatient commitment, there is considerable controversy within the mental health community with regard to the acceptable purposes and uses of this option. There is also considerable variability
in the manner in which outpatient commitment is utilized. Not only do states
have different standards in the law, but judges and doctors can and do differ
widely in their understanding and use of discretion regarding the appropriateness of invoking outpatient commitment provisions.
To avoid the adversarial dynamics of involuntary commitment, in some
instances crisis teams may consider the use of alternative dispute resolution
(ADR). Crisis teams should consider including personnel trained in ADR techniques who can attempt to resolve conflicts short of involuntary intervention.
Many people with mental illness today have some broad understanding of
involuntary commitment laws and of the rights they have under those laws.
More broadly, many who have been in treatment have learned to understand
their illness, to monitor their symptoms, and, ideally, to manage their condition. Patient education is a significant component of treatment in some mental
health agencies. Some consumers have arranged to provide information to emergency responders (e.g., through wallet cards) on whom to contact in the event of
a crisis. Officers should be aware that someone with a mental illness who is
expressing a preference for particular actions, medications, or modes of treat-

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

ment may be speaking from experience. The person’s requests should be relayed to any treatment professional called to the scene or consulted in follow-up
to an incident.
“Advance directives” are legal mechanisms by which a patient’s preference
for particular medications or treatment alternatives can be expressed prior to a
crisis, much as many in the general population execute “living wills” or other
legal documents outlining their wishes should medical crises leave them unable to express themselves in this way. Officers should be familiar with this
mechanism and should be aware of the possibility that a person with mental
illness may wish to follow the steps outlined in his or her advance directive. In
cases where the advance directive is followed, the person with mental illness
may more readily agree to become engaged in services, thereby eliminating the
need for involuntary commitment.

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

4

Policy Statement 4: On-Scene Response

On-Scene Response
POLICY STATEMENT #4

Establish written protocols that enable officers to implement an appropriate response based on the nature of the incident, the behavior
of the person with mental illness, and available resources.

This section discusses the appropriate disposition options chosen by the officer based on the nature of the situation as determined in the assessment phase—including the behavior of the person
with mental illness, established protocols, and the
availability of community resources.
The availability of community resources is dependent on a complex set of circumstances. For example, the advent of managed care and other
changes in the broader health care system, as well
as in the delivery of mental health services, have
resulted in hospital consolidation, the shift to ambulatory care, and changes in emergency room procedures in almost every community in the country.
In many places, practices in place just a few years
ago no longer apply today. Due to factors well beyond the control of mental health services, it can be
difficult to admit patients to a hospital or other medical facility. For this reason, law enforcement officers and others should stay abreast of how mental
health services are delivered in their community.
Spurred by the new health care realities, mental health service providers in many communities
have developed protocols intended to ensure that
appropriate professionals see emergency psychiatric patients in a timely manner. Models differ among

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

communities due to numerous factors, but the most
effective approaches seem to share certain characteristics, such as having staff who can respond
quickly and make an assessment of the needs of each
person who comes to them.
In rural settings, where hospitals or treatment
centers may be located far from some communities,
officers face challenges related to time and travel,
in addition to the obstacle of identifying appropriate resources for someone they believe needs treatment. Increasingly, communities are using technology—“telemedicine”—for initial assessments.
Alternatively, communities rely on general health
care practitioners or lesser credentialed professionals to provide these assessments, which, while not
ideal, may be the only means available with current
system and resource constraints. Still, there are
many instances in which long distances need to be
traveled in order to connect a person in need of treatment with appropriate services. Generally, law enforcement agencies are called on for transportation
in these cases. (See Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs,
and Classification / Housing Decisions, for more on
telemedicine.)

The range of response options should always
include the option of disengagement when the person is not a danger to him or herself or to others
and has not committed a serious crime. Disengagement from police contact should not be interpreted
to mean that no assistance is offered. What it can
be interpreted to mean is that officers can and should
provide referrals to appropriate mental health services and supports in such instances.
Departments should be aware that the simple
presence of a law enforcement officer implies a certain amount of power—many people interpret whatever an officer says as something they must do.
Officers should make clear that it is voluntary for
people with mental illnesses—those who are not a
danger or have not committed a serious crime—to

follow their suggestions for referral and treatment.
True problem solvers will help the person with mental illness overcome such barriers to initial treatment as transportation problems or fear of traveling alone.
The following recommendations suggest ways
to facilitate the appropriate disposition for the full
range of people with mental illness who may encounter the police. The sections recommend procedures that enhance emergency evaluations, promote
referral to support services, provide information to
victims and families, and facilitate transportation
and detention when necessary. Detailed policy recommendations on report writing and other incident
documentation procedures are included in Policy
Statement 5: Incident Documentation.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Institute a flowchart that matches hypothetical situations with disposition options.

Because calls involving people with mental illness can be influenced by a
wide array of variables, a clearly articulated flowchart is a good way to enhance
officer response to people with mental illness. A flowchart such as the one in
Figure 1 helps officers decide what options are best suited to each situation
they encounter. In order to develop such a tool, people involved in each point of
the system should identify the different response options available for each
type of scenario typically encountered by responding officers.
Figure 1 shows a sample flowchart that might be used by a Crisis Intervention Team combined with a Mobile Crisis Team, an admittedly rare but effective response approach. The chart depicts multiple situations and next steps
recommended for each.
A flowchart helps clarify when diversion from the criminal justice system
is appropriate and when it is not. For example, in the rare event that the threat
of violence exists, a flowchart developed by the individual department can reinforce the decision as to when treatment providers and police can address the
problem or when other special response teams should be called in. This reference can assist in determining appropriate levels of response (which do not
include SWAT teams unless absolutely necessary) that are based on the likely
success of de-escalation techniques and accurate assessments of threat.

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 4: On-Scene Response

Figure 1: Sample Flowchart for Responding to
People with Mental Illnesses*
Call for service comes into 911.
Dispatcher determines if mental
illness is a factor in the call and
relays the call to patrol.

First Available Officer is
dispatched to the scene.
This may be a specially
trained CIT officer or
paired team of officer with
social worker.

The officer determines the person
does not meet the
commitment criteria
and no major crimes
have been committed

MCT Team
is called,
if available.

A referral is
made to a local
mental health
care agency
when necessary.

Referral is made to
peer support groups.

ONGOING: Police
work with MCT to
ensure consumer
needs are being met.

The officer determines the person
does meet the
commitment criteria
and no major crimes
have been committed

Person with
a mental
illness
agrees to
voluntary
admission.

Person is
taken to a
predetermined
inpatient
mental health
facility.

Officer
decides to
pursue
involuntary
commitment.

The officer determines the person
does not meet the
commitment criteria
and a major crime
has been committed

The officer determines the person
does meet the
commitment criteria
and a major crime
has been committed

The person is
arrested and
taken to jail
facility with
mental health
treatment.

The person is
arrested and
taken to jail
facility with
mental health
treatment.

Person is
taken to a
predetermined
local triage
center or
emergency
room.

NOTE: If a co-occurring
disorder is involved, the
person is taken to a predetermined facility.

LAST STEPS: The officer accurately
clears the call with dispatch.
Reports are written to reflect the
incident and observable symptoms
of the person involved.

*This chart reflects responses of a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) combined with a Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) and concerns situations involving people with mental illness who are the subject of the call for service. It does not encompass situations where the
person with a mental illness is a crime victim or witness.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

b

Designate area hospitals or mental health facilities as disposition
centers that facilitate intake for people with mental illnesses who
require emergency psychiatric evaluation.

It is critical for a successful diversion program to have a place where responders can take people with mental illness who require emergency evaluations. The most common difficulty encountered by police is the lack of available
facility space or long waiting times for intake procedures. Consumers with cooccurring disorders or additional special needs may not seem to fit any access
requirements. Agreements between law enforcement and mental health facilities can result in designated centers for drop off, procedures at the center that
shorten the wait for police referrals, and coordinated efforts to identify available beds and hard-to-access services (such as for co-occurring disorders) from
a wide range of options. Given the difficulties in sorting out whether a person’s
symptoms are due only to mental illness or to substance abuse, these facilities
must have the capacity to work with both disorders.
Example: Memphis (TN) Police Department

A key element to success for the Memphis Police Department has been the relationships developed with the mental health community. For example, the local psychiatric
emergency room agreed to provide emergency evaluations to all people with mental
illness brought in by the police. The hospital also assumes immediate responsibility
for assessment and referral—to either community-based or inpatient treatment at the
local state hospital—while officers return to police service in as little as 15 minutes.

Example: Florence (AL) Police Department

The Florence Police department liaison, with the help and support of the chief, negotiated an agreement with the director of the local emergency room to “fast track”
medical assessments conducted on people with mental illnesses who were brought in
by police. These assessments now take less than 30 minutes.

Example: Anne Arundel County (MD) Mental Health Facility

In Anne Arundel County, Maryland, the county mental health facility maintains a
countywide bed registry to assist law enforcement in easily locating an available bed.

Example: Seattle (WA) Crisis Intervention Team

Crisis Intervention Team officers from the Seattle Police Department may transport
individuals who appear to have a mental illness to a Crisis Triage Unit at a Seattlearea hospital. King County health care providers developed the unit, which is open 24
hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to people in crisis.

Long drives to mental health facilities may remain the rule in rural areas,
but it is possible for officers to be assured that the effort will be worthwhile. For
instance, telemedicine gives officers and psychiatrists or other mental health
professionals an opportunity to ensure that preliminary assessments are per-

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 4: On-Scene Response

formed in a timely manner. These preliminary assessments help to guard against
transportation that is ultimately unnecessary, and they ensure that proper arrangements are made to receive the individual.

"If you don't have appropriate access to treatment
and services, the only
option that most law enforcement officers have in

c

Ensure that comprehensive emergency psychiatric services are
available to law enforcement agencies for around-the-clock intake,
24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

In most communities today, there are a limited number of clearly designated emergency intake centers—perhaps just one. Each intake center should
have staff on hand or on call that can respond quickly and make an assessment
of the needs of each person who comes to them. It is less important where the
intake center is—in a hospital or in a community mental health center, for example—than that the staff at the center be informed of what resources are
currently available and have the authority to place the individual in the appropriate services. Investing staff with these “gatekeeper” functions is very important both for ensuring a smooth and rapid “hand-off,” and for coordinated follow-up—whatever form it may take. Most important for police, of course, is
that mental health staff be able to rapidly assume responsibility for an individual brought to them so that the officer can resume his or her duties.
Additionally, the community mental health center in some communities
may operate an on-site emergency intake service only during business hours.
Police and others would use the center at those times. After hours, the emergency intake service may shift to a local hospital, providing mental health workers with medical backup and laboratory services. In many settings, the mental
health workers at the hospital also answer the overnight emergency telephone
calls coming into the mental health center and thus have a sense of the demand
for services. If services are lacking, mental health, police, and other criminal
justice system professionals should lobby with consumer advocates for proper
appropriations for such facilities.
In any setting, it is important that mental health workers be dedicated to
emergency services, instead of being called away to treat accident victims or
others coming to the emergency room for nonpsychiatric reasons. In many settings, it should be noted, the staff on hand may not include a psychiatrist. In all
cases, however, a psychiatrist must be on call and available on short notice.
Example: The Providence Center (RI)

In Providence, Rhode Island, the Providence Center, a community-based, non-profit
mental health provider, maintains an emergency services center at its main treatment
site that operates during extended business hours, Monday through Friday. During
other hours, emergency services are provided at a nearby hospital, where a Providence
Center employee answers the emergency telephone line and makes on-site assessments of individuals who come to the hospital or are transported by police or others.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

most situations is the
county jail"
MAJOR SAM COCHRAN
Coordinator, Memphis
Crisis Intervention
Team, TN
Source: "Memphis Police Look

to Help, Not Lock Up, Mentally
Ill." June 8, 1999, available at:
www.cnn.com/health/9906/08/
mental.health

Erratic behavior can be caused by drugs or alcohol and other medical conditions as well as by a mental illness. While police may suspect the cause of
erratic behavior, the actual factors may not be known for days or weeks. It is
therefore important for the receiving mental health staff to be knowledgeable
about the distinctions between mental illness, other medical conditions, and
drug or alcohol involvement. The intake staff must have access to laboratory
services and other diagnostic technology to accurately assess detainees’ needs
for treatment. Easy access to emergency medical care is similarly important.
Staff must also be able to connect with needed drug and alcohol services and/or
professionals with the ability to treat substance abuse and mental illness simultaneously if such services are called for (see Policy Statement 1: Involvement With Mental Health System).
Staff at the intake center must also be able to determine whether the individual meets criteria for involuntary commitment and, more important, be authorized to take appropriate steps in the event that commitment is warranted.
When the person with mental illness does not meet the criteria for involuntary commitment, it is especially important that law enforcement and staff
at the intake center identify some short-term housing options for those who are
homeless. Without a linkage to some type of housing, the police are likely to
encounter the person on the streets not long after dropping him off at the intake center. Programs that make short-term housing available for individuals
who do not meet the criteria for involuntary commitment should also work to
connect clients with long-term housing opportunities.
Example: Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. (BCRI), Baltimore City (MD)

Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. (BCRI) manages mental health crisis beds within
Baltimore City that are available on a voluntary basis to individuals who do not meet
criteria for involuntary admission to a hospital and have not been charged with a
crime that requires detainment. BCRI staff work closely with emergency rooms, the
Baltimore Police Department, and mental health agencies to afford access to these
beds as a form of pre-booking diversion. BCRI case managers work with individuals
admitted to the mental health crisis facility to connect them to long-term housing and
other services.

The type of insurance coverage an individual has can affect efforts to gain
access to emergency psychiatric services. Private insurance, especially, may be
governed by “medical necessity” criteria that can be interpreted to exclude someone with mental illness from emergency admission to some hospitals. Publicly
funded mental health centers may be excluded from preferred provider lists
developed by private insurers, which in some instances can complicate or even
eliminate the possibility of admission. If an individual is an active Medicaid or
Medicare patient, admission is still likely to be governed by some level of managed care admission criteria. While many hospitals and mental health centers
receive funds allowing them to accept uninsured individuals, the absence of

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 4: On-Scene Response

any coverage complicates admission and, at a minimum, can cause further delays. None of these insurance issues are unique to mental health service delivery, but when they arise in instances involving someone who is psychotic or
deeply suspicious they can stand between that person and the services he or
she needs.

d

Formalize agreements between law enforcement and mental health
partners participating in protocols.

Chapter V: Improving Collaboration, discusses the importance of formal
agreements between the criminal justice system and mental health system components on the roles and responsibilities of each partner. The following checklist outlines particular areas of such agreements that are specific to the concerns of law enforcement and mental health professionals when developing
agreements. (See Policy Statement 26: Institutionalizing the Partnership, for
more on elements of successful agreements.)

56

“

What emergency detention authority do officers have and how will custodial transfer occur? It must include protections for taking the person
into custody and provide liability protection as long as they are in custody. Partners will need to know what existing authority (local laws,
indemnity clauses, and state statutes) may impact rights and obligations.

“

What information can be shared under what circumstances? Confidentiality provisions for verbal or document exchange should address what
will happen when information is included in either police or mental
health reports that relates to an ongoing criminal investigation or to a
mental health treatment plan. (See Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information.)

“

How do law enforcement officers make the determination whether or
not to place a person with mental illnesses in custody for transport to a
mental health facility? It is important to specify rules based on how the
person gets to the facility—in custody or voluntarily.

“

When does responsibility actually shift from the on-scene responder to
a mental health professional? (This could be at the scene, by phone, in a
waiting room, etc.) There must be clarification of the point at which the
responsibility to provide services transfers from one entity to the other.

“

What intervention (such as an advocacy service) is available when a
person suspected of having a mental illness is being held in a holding
cell and is in need of services but who does not qualify for emergency
evaluation?

“

What liability protection is in place? Liability suits are related to practice, custom, policy, or accepted standards of care. The premise under
liability law is that an officer cannot be sued for general duty to protect
someone from being victimized, injured, or killed. However, if through
a partnership a law enforcement agency creates a new special duty that

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

it is later unable to fulfill, departments and/or officers can be held liable. Law enforcement counsel should consider whether any agreement
creates a new special duty to the individual that would create liability if
breached. Each party should be held liable for its own agents’ actions. If
the memorandum of understanding (MOU) is carefully structured, a
breach resulting in litigation would not focus on it being a joint venture
with shared liability.
“

e

What are the budgetary considerations? Cost or funding responsibilities must be addressed.

Ensure that mental health services and supports are available for
every person in need.

Ideally, any person brought to a mental health provider by police officers
will be someone already known to the system or will be able to easily fit into
existing services. Unfortunately, such cases appear to be more the exception
than the rule. Perhaps because people who are not already engaged in the system come into contact with the police more frequently than others who are
successfully engaged in treatment, they face a number of obstacles in entering
the system. Because contact with police may, in fact, turn out to be a person’s
introduction to the mental health system, it is important that the system’s door
be open at this critical juncture and engagement not be made more difficult by
bureaucratic concerns. Establishing protocols that allow a case to be opened or
reopened smoothly can help with this process.
An important test of the partnership between police and mental health
providers is the ability of officers and providers to agree on who needs mental
health services. If police officers bring an individual they perceive to be in need
to a provider, they expect the provider to offer appropriate services to that individual. Mental health providers must respect the observations and judgments
of police officers charged with making quick decisions in the field. By the same
token, police officers must respect the assessment of mental health providers
about which cases they are able to address and which cases are beyond their
capacities. If the law enforcement and provider agencies have not worked together before, it may take a period of trial and error for a balance to be struck.
The important thing is for police and providers to ensure that they will learn as
they go along and that every effort will be made to meet each individual’s needs
in the process. There must also be an understanding that if an individual’s
needs cannot be met, there is a shared plan for getting those resources established.
Even with appropriate training, police officers will occasionally seek services for someone who cannot be helped by the local mental health provider. It
is important in such instances, however, that providers not simply turn the
individual away or leave him or her under the responsibility of the police. Protocols should be developed that delineate how police and providers should work
together to find some assistance for the individual, even if it is not in the mental health system.

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Policy Statement 4: On-Scene Response

One source of assistance for people with mental illness is peer support
programs. Several types of peer groups exist to help consumers, including DropIn Centers, Warmlines, and Clubhouses. “Drop-in centers” are informal social
and recreational programs that serve as information clearinghouses and meeting locations for other peer support groups, including 12-step groups. Traditionally, people with mental illness fill staff positions. “Warmlines” are telephone support systems staffed by consumers trained to listen empathetically,
provide information about appropriate resources, and act as a link to needed or
desired supports and services. Warmline staff does not provide suicide intervention or crisis intervention, but they are trained to recognize the need to
engage the more critical support offered by a suicide hotline. The staff also
makes outgoing calls, contacting consumers who have asked to be called regularly to stay connected to a support system. “Clubhouses” are collaborative
efforts between professionally trained staff and consumers who provide vocational support and prepare consumers to enter into or return to the workforce.
In many instances, law enforcement officers may deliver a person with a
mental illness to a mental health provider only to discover that any of a number
of complicating factors may make it difficult to connect that person with appropriate services. For example, the provider will want to determine whether the
person has insurance or qualifies for Medicaid or other benefits or entitlements.
Similarly, the person may have more than one diagnosis or display no interest
in receiving services. In these instances, too, protocols must be in place to ensure the delivery of appropriate services or responses.
In some communities, ACT programs have been put in place or adapted to
provide or arrange for comprehensive treatment and supports for people with
mental illness whose behavior has brought them to the attention of law enforcement. The concentrated individual attention that characterizes the ACT
model can provide assurance that a person in need will receive appropriate
services. In other instances, it may be that clinical services aren’t needed, and
the most effective connection can be made with peer services, either at a dropin center or through individual contact with a peer counselor who is trusted
because of the shared experience of mental illness.
Regardless of the model used, mental health providers should take steps
to ensure thorough follow-up for any individual who is brought to them under
mutually agreed conditions by law enforcement authorities. Follow up may help
stop the cycle of repeated involvement with the criminal justice system, while
offering mental health providers a ready barometer of conditions and situations that receive police attention. “Follow-up” in this case means, at a minimum, a thorough examination, which may result in a referral to a more appropriate provider. The protocols developed to ensure services must also include a
component that allows providers and police to regularly assess the appropriateness of referrals. In addition, each participating agency should designate a
liaison to work with counterparts to resolve problems.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Example: Anne Arundel County (MD) Mobile Crisis Team

The Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) approach is successful in Anne Arundel County because the MCT is connected to a local clinic, emergency shelter beds, and an In-Home
Intervention Team. The MCT has the resources to ensure that people with mental
illnesses get the intervention necessary. The Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, Police Department is among other agencies using a similar approach.

f

Ensure that specially trained mental health professionals are available to respond to scenes involving barricaded or suicidal suspects.

To respond as appropriately as possible in the incidences of barricaded
subjects or violent situations, effective communication must exist between police, special responders and department negotiators. While agencies are often
under pressure to resolve situations quickly, it is often the best approach to
allow time for communication to work in these crisis situations. Hostage negotiators will likely be called to a scene when initial efforts by responding officers
to resolve a critical incident have failed.
The effective resolution of these encounters is also dependent on the involvement of specially selected and trained mental health professionals who
have expertise in crisis negotiation and familiarity with police operations. Statelevel mental health agencies will likely know of individuals suited to this role.
These mental health professionals will be able to assist law enforcement in
understanding the motivation for the incident, which is critical to defusing the
situation.

g

Provide information to victims with mental illness and their families to help prevent revictimization and increase understanding of
criminal justice procedures.

Research has shown that people with mental illness, like many people with
disabilities, are at a greater risk for victimization.3 People with mental illnesses
have been shown to be vulnerable to sexual assault as well as other violent
crimes.4 These crimes are also disproportionately unreported, probably because these victims fear reprisals or retribution from their abusers for coming
forward or fear the police won’t believe them.
People with mental illness who have been victimized repeatedly may confuse events in their reports to law enforcement. This confusion does not negate
their victimization and the importance of investigating the crime. In fact, people
with mental illness may experience the trauma of victimization more acutely
than other victims, partly because it triggers memories of past abuse. This
history of abuse is relevant to case investigation and should be explored.

3. Virginia Hiday et al., "Criminal Victimization of Persons
with Severe Mental Illness," pp. 62-68; also J.A. Marley and
S. Buila, "When violence happens to people with mental
illness: Disclosing victimization," American Journal of
Orthopsychiatry 69:3, 1999, pp. 398-402.

4. D.D. Sorensen, "The Invisible Victims," available at:
www.ncvc.org/newsltr/disabled.htm.

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 4: On-Scene Response

Unfortunately, when victims with mental illness do report their crimes,
they are frequently viewed as unreliable witnesses and their cases are often
dropped. Law enforcement must become more aware of the complexities of working with victims who have mental illness and should collaborate with their
mental health partners to increase the reliability of evidence. These professionals can help law enforcement sort out these complex issues and improve
case outcomes. Resources for responding to crime victims who have disabilities
can be obtained through the Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime.5
Law enforcement agencies should provide information to these victims about
available services that can help reduce their vulnerability and promote positive
contacts with the criminal justice system agents who can inform them of case
progress. Law enforcement can also work with consumers and their advocates
to conduct crime prevention outreach.

h

Inform affected third parties, including victims, minors and the
elderly, about what to expect and what community resources are
available.

Affected third parties can include victims, family members, employers, or
others who share a home or part of their lives with people with mental illness.
As in other similar situations, these individuals need a variety of supports and
may look to law enforcement for help in accessing resources. In particular,
victims (who may also be family members) should be apprised of the course of
action to be taken by law enforcement and mental health agencies, and what
they can expect the outcomes of the actions to be. They should also be made
aware of national resources for victim assistance, including the National Organization for Victim Assistance, the National Center for Victims of Crime, and
the Office for Victims of Crime.
In many instances, families try to maintain normalcy when dealing with
one of their own who has a mental illness. It may be that the incident resulting
in police involvement is the first public acknowledgment of mental illness in
the home. Or it may be that the incident is the first manifestation that has
clarified mental illness as a problem. In any case, the incident may represent
the first time the family has reached out for help and thus the first opportunity
for necessary supports to be made available to them. It is important, therefore,
for police officers and mental health workers to be knowledgeable about the full
range of resources that are available for families and others close to the affected person.
For example, police departments and their mental health partners can
provide information on peer supports, such as consumer-managed neighborhood projects, drop-in centers, and warmlines, which offer nonemergency support to consumers by telephone. Regional NAMI affiliate organizations, com-

5. C.G. Tyiska, "Working with victims of crime with disabilities," available at: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/publications/factshts/disable.htm.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

munity chapters of the Depressive and Manic Depressive Association, and local
United Way organizations are all good resources for peer support and services.
Families may also contact statewide consumer-managed organizations, an example of which is the Tennessee Mental Health Consumer Network.
If police have been called to a home as a result of a threat or threatening
action, they should be able to inform family members in the home on ways to
protect themselves. Even in instances where the individual is placed in treatment, voluntarily or involuntarily, it can usually be expected that he or she will
be at liberty in the community within perhaps a matter of days. Families should
be made aware of the process for obtaining a protective order, the associated
risks and benefits, as well as what to expect should the order be obtained and
violated by the ill family member.
In many instances, of course, members of the family may represent classes
given special status or protection under the law. Children of a person with mental illness, for example, may be subject to actions taken by the child protection
authorities intended to remove them from the risk of harm. If elderly individuals or spouses have been threatened or harmed, police may be required by law
to arrest the individual family member or to notify other authorities. (It should
be noted that mental health workers who uncover evidence of elderly, spousal,
or child abuse may also be obligated under the law to notify certain authorities.)
Families that report and deal with incidents have great need for support.
They may feel isolated and not know where they can turn for information that
will help them provide the best care for their relative and for themselves. It is
helpful for police to be aware of the resources available to assist families in
these situations, such as NAMI. However, it is essential that mental health
providers be prepared to provide complete information on support and education resources to families.
In some places, mental health agencies provide classes or resource centers
stocked with information for families. More generally, community mental health
providers rely on separate nonprofit organizations to provide information and
support. Most commonly, these local organizations are affiliated with such previously cited national organizations as NAMI, the National Mental Health Association, or the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association and
are able to offer information and programs developed by these organizations.
By meeting and communicating with others who have been through similar
situations, families are able to learn skills that will help them to be effective
advocates for themselves and for their relatives.
Law enforcement agencies should work with their mental health partners
to prepare packets of information on available community-based resources for
people with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders and for their families. These packets should accommodate the full range of cultures and languages present in the community.

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

Policy Statement 4: On-Scene Response

Example: Community Mental Health Centers

Community mental health centers in many communities have prepared packets of
information for families of clients receiving emergency services. These packets include information about the services the center provides, the rights of patients, payment options, and materials from the local NAMI affiliate and the statewide Mental
Health Association. In addition, counselors who meet the families in these initial
encounters encourage the families to make contact with one of the organizations,
taking time to allay their concerns about privacy, shame, and cost. The organizations,
in turn, provide useful information, including Web addresses, book lists, schedules of
classes or events, local contact information, as well as descriptions and contact information for area provider agencies.

i

Disengage or transport the person to the appropriate facility with
the least restrictive restraint possible.

Depending on the nature of the response chosen, officers will either leave
the person at the scene, transport the person to a mental health facility, transport the person to their home or to the home of a friend or family member, or
transport the person to a detention facility.
If police are requested to transport the person to the mental health facility
for a voluntary admission, this is service, not a custodial transport. In general,
police can take a person with mental illness into custody, only (1) when the
individual has committed a crime; (2) the individual is at significant risk of
causing harm to self or others and meets the state’s criteria for involuntary
emergency evaluation; or (3) in response to a court order or directive of a mental health or medical practitioner who has legal authority to commit a person to
a mental health facility.
Before agencies revise policies on custodial and noncustodial transfer of
people with mental illness, pertinent laws and liability issues should be explored. However, it is possible to decrease stigma and enhance the dignity of
people with mental illness during the transport process.
Example: Washington, D.C., Police Department

A Washington, D.C., policy states that if the responding officer is asked to transport
someone for voluntary admission and the officer deems the person to be nonviolent,
the officer can provide transport to the facility without handcuffs.

If a person’s behavior poses an imminent risk of serious harm to self or
others, officers may need to take reasonable steps to physically restrain the
person. If time permits, guidance from a mental health professional should be
sought about the best restraint methods for the person and situation. Unless
there is immediate danger to the individual, others, or officers, responding officers should move slowly and allow the person time to calm down in an effort to
gain voluntary cooperation before resorting to physical restraints.

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In some communities, police are able to call mental health staff to handle
transport. Often known as mobile crisis teams, these mental health units are
able to assume responsibility for the individual in question on the scene, allowing officers to return to patrol.
Example: Montgomery County (MD) Police Department

In Montgomery County, Maryland, the Police Department’s Crisis Intervention Team
works closely with the county mental health agency’s Crisis Response Team. In many
instances, the Crisis Response Team is called to the scene by the CIT, allowing police
officers to transfer responsibility for an individual without accompanying that person
to a mental health intake center or hospital emergency room.

j

Conduct suicide screening for all people with mental illness who
are detained for a short time in a police lock-up or jail.

Depending upon the jurisdiction, a person taken into custody for a criminal offense is brought either to a police holding facility or to the local jail pending the initial appearance in court. While this stay in custody awaiting the
court appearance is usually brief—in most instances less than 24 hours—it can
be a vital time for a person with mental illness. Research has shown that most
suicides that occur in custody take place within the first 24 hours.6 In addition,
the behavior that led to the arrest may be the manifestation of an individual
experiencing a mental health crisis.
As a result, intake procedures into these facilities should screen for a risk
of suicide and assess the need for emergency psychiatric evaluation. Staff should
also be trained in suicide prevention and crisis management procedures. These
screening procedures are for the purpose of providing appropriate treatment,
not for gathering evidence for a criminal proceeding. Agency staff should also
note that people with mental illness may need access to their medication. Officers must follow departmental rules for verifying that any pills or capsules the
person is carrying are prescribed, or to obtain the needed medication, so that
they may authorize the individual to continue the prescribed treatment should
they be detained.
As mentioned earlier, police officers should be aware that some medications that treat mental illness have side effects that may require attention. For
example, medications may cause tremors, nausea, extreme lethargy, confusion,
dry mouth, constipation, or diarrhea. Police officers should attend to needs for
water, food, and access to toilet facilities. It is important not to mistake these
side effects as evidence of alcohol or drug abuse. (See Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility, for more information on intake
procedures.)

6. L.M. Hayes, Prison Suicide: An Overview and Guide
to Prevention, National Institute of Corrections, 1995,
available at: www.nicic.org/pubs/1995/012475.pdf

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

5

Policy Statement 5: Incident Documentation

Incident Documentation
POLICY STATEMENT #5

Document accurately police contacts with people whose mental illness was a factor in an incident to promote accountability and to enhance service delivery.

While not all contacts with the public result in
documentation, law enforcement agencies do collect
information about most of their encounters with the
public at several points: when the call comes in to
the agency; when the officer clears the call and returns to service; when an official report is filed; and
when supplemental reports are submitted. Many
agencies maintain sophisticated computerized systems, while others rely on more traditional paperbased systems. Regardless of the level of sophistication, however, it is critical that data be reliable,
accurate, and consistently entered.
When the call comes in to the agency dispatch,
some agencies use a Computer Aided Dispatch
(CAD) system that maintains important data elements on all calls for service. These systems keep
track of calls based on their geographic location, and
can show numbers and types of calls over time.
When the officer has completed the call, he or she
contacts the dispatcher to clear the call and can update the nature of the call at that time. Although
not all departments have a CAD system, all do maintain some system for tracking calls for service.
Many agencies also maintain additional computerized data systems, often called Records Management Systems, or RMS, which capture information submitted on incident or arrest reports. These
data may be used by police to manage a great deal

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

of information about contacts with the police, up to
and including arrest. These data are analyzed to
detect crime patterns and evaluate the police response. Supplemental reports for particular types
of incidents may also be maintained in computerized formats, or in file cabinets, depending on the
quantity of the information and its intended use.
Law enforcement agencies must consistently
and accurately document their contacts with people
who have mental illness, just as they should for all
encounters—for consumers’ protection and to provide better law enforcement service. Just as information has certain benefits, however, it also has
risks to the consumer and his or her family. For
this reason, privacy laws protect personal medical
information, including information about a person’s
mental health, and limit the occasions when a medical professional can share that information without
consent. A full discussion of protected information
and its disclosure is provided in Policy Statement
25: Sharing Information.
The recommendations in this section address
how law enforcement should capture data and under what circumstances. Ultimately, departments
that develop effective internal information-management systems will depend less on mental health system information protected by privacy laws and be
better prepared to address the needs of people with
mental illness in the long term.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Capture information related to mental illness consistently in callsfor-service data.

Regardless of agency size, law enforcement agencies should use special
numerical codes when storing data to indicate when mental illness was a factor
in the call for service.7 Smaller departments may document incidences using
index cards while some larger departments may use computer equipment. In
smaller jurisdictions without advanced Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) systems, dispatchers must be specially trained to collect detailed information that
can be stored in location files or similar data sources.
Officers should also be required to update this numerical code when clearing the call to change the nature of the call if they determine that mental illness
is an issue. For example, if an officer is called for a noise complaint and finds a
man having a psychotic episode who is a danger to himself, the call should be
cleared to reflect this new information. If the officer determines that mental
illness is not a factor in a call that was dispatched as such, he or she should also
denote that change for dispatch.
Many CAD systems have only one field that captures the type of call and
officers are asked to pick the most relevant code. Agencies will need to provide
guidance to officers as to how and when to prioritize the mental illness as the
critical feature of the call. By using appropriate clearance codes in the CAD
system, law enforcement agencies can track information (such as repeat calls
involving a person with mental illness) and assess agency responses.
Some departments also choose to place “flags” on certain locations in the
CAD system (see Policy Statement 2: Request for Police Service). These flags
appear when repeated calls for service are made to that location. The dispatcher
then reads the text of the flag when dispatching the call to provide additional
information to the responding officers. These flags are placed only on those call
locations that pose a particular concern, such as potential for violence or as a
repeat location. Personnel are designated to review these flags periodically to
make sure the flags continue to reflect current issues or problems.
Example: Baltimore County (MD) Police Department

In the Baltimore County Police Department, supervisors make written requests to the
communications center to place a flag on certain locations where police have made
repeated calls or where there has been a history of weapons use or violence. These
flags are used for a wide variety of calls, not just those related to mental health
problems.

7. Law enforcement agencies should only document information about mental illness when it is relevant to the encounter. Agencies should not develop databases that con-

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

b

Policy Statement 5: Incident Documentation

Collect information related to mental illness accurately in police
reports and supplemental forms, focusing on observable behavior.

Although information about a person’s mental illness on written police reports is important for accuracy and to clarify officers’ response choices, it has
the potential to influence criminal case outcomes negatively. For that reason,
care must be taken in the way that information pertaining to mental illness is
documented.
Most important, officers should be trained to concentrate on documenting
observable behavior, not pseudo-diagnoses or damaging slang. For example,
reports should never include a box stating that a person is mentally ill, but
could instead list indicators of mental illness involved (see Policy Statement 3:
On-Scene Assessment, for examples of indicators of mental illness).
Report forms should also allow room for officers to include their own observations. However, officers should not draw conclusions in their observations
about what they believe has caused the behavior, such as that the person is “off
his meds,” without supporting information. Whenever possible, local mental
health professionals should participate in training officers about the type of
information to be included in a report based on federal, state, and local laws.
Confidential information shared by mental health professionals should not be
documented in police reports.
Departments may also want to consider using supplemental forms that
capture additional information about police contacts with people with mental
illnesses. These forms should not become part of the charging documents and
should be kept confidential. This documentation can provide information about
the nature of the problem, mental health resources that were accessed, and the
way police responded. This information will be helpful to internal decisionmaking processes, such as the allocation of resources, but will not be part of the
individual’s arrest record.
Example: Memphis (TN) Crisis Intervention Team

The CIT approaches used around the country employ a report form that is completed
by the responding CIT officer and maintained by the coordinator for review and tracking. Memphis, Tennessee, and Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Departments
use such a form to document incident specifics such as the living arrangement of the
person, the use of restraints, and the disposition chosen.

Police observations related to a person’s mental illness are also collected
on commitment forms, which in many jurisdictions give only two lines to report
observations. Commitment forms must be useful for police, which means short
and fast, but they should have sufficient space to record observations that would
be useful to mental health providers. These forms are used to indicate probable
cause for emergency holds of individuals thought likely to meet criteria for involuntary commitment and will be presented to judges during civil commit-

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"In terms of information,
law enforcement needs to
know enough to resolve
the situation and keep
people safe, but some of
the detail and nuance are
better kept confidential. If
law enforcement has certain information, it can
stigmatize the person with
mental illness, and that
can stay with the person
for a long time."

CHIEF CHARLES
MOOSE
Montgomery County
Police Department, MD

ment proceedings. Often, police officers have had the best opportunity to observe behaviors that may indicate need for involuntary treatment, so an accurate and professional description in such instances is important.

c

Document information relating to a person’s mental illness only
when that information is relevant to the incident.

Officers should document information about mental illness only when that
illness is relevant to the police contact. For example, a suspect may have depression that is not relevant to the crime he or she is accused of. Similarly, for
some victims of crime who have a mental illness, that illness is not relevant to
the situation and thus should not be recorded.

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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

6

Policy Statement 6: Police Response Evaluation

Police Response Evaluation
POLICY STATEMENT #6

Collaborate with mental health partners to reduce the need for subsequent contacts between people with mental illness and law enforcement.

An important goal of any police response is to
ensure that people with mental illness are well
served by the services that are brought to bear and
that approaches being implemented have the effect
of reducing contacts with the criminal justice system. The way to assess how well services are working involves doing two things: consulting with ser-

vice providers to evaluate referral mechanisms and
identifying individuals who continue to come into
contact with the police. It is important when conducting any kind of assessment for the participants
to have clearly articulated the program goals. Chapter V: Improving Collaboration and Chapter VIII:
Evaluating Outcomes also address these topics.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Consult with service providers to evaluate rates of success in engaging people referred by the police.

Law enforcement agencies should consult with service providers (including those who focus on minors and victims) to gather information on the outcome of the police referrals. It is important, as always, that private information
about the individuals seeking treatment be kept confidential. Consulting with
providers serves as an evaluation tool to assess whether services were made
available and accessed following encounters with law enforcement. Agencies
should examine in-house protocols to ensure that referrals were made and to
identify other resource issues.
This consultation can be conducted during routine partnership meetings
where police and mental health practitioners review data they have collected.
It is very important that these data be presented in the aggregate rather than

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for each individual.8 For example, the law enforcement representative can provide the number of people who were referred for services, which can be compared to the mental health representatives’ notes on how many people contacted the service. In this way, confidentiality is maintained, yet problems with
the protocol can be examined.

b

Analyze police data to identify individuals who have repeat contacts with law enforcement and collaborate with mental health
partners to develop long-term solutions.

A proactive approach is fundamental to the philosophy of community policing. This involves identifying problem situations and working with community
partners to craft long-term solutions. “Problem” situations involving people with
mental illness are those that result in repeat calls to the police. These situations
may not be resolved by existing protocols, may escalate in seriousness, and require a more in-depth look into the underlying causes of the problem.
To identify these cases, agencies must review internal databases designed
to capture information on situations involving people with mental illness. As
mentioned previously, some departments review CAD system data to reveal
locations that previously have involved violence or that result in frequent calls
for service. Other agencies review supplemental data forms collected by crisis
intervention teams.
Once the case has been identified, law enforcement personnel should work
closely with their mental health partners to identify the precise nature of the
problem and the possible causes.9 Together police and mental health providers
can then determine a course of action to help the person avoid further contacts
with the police. It is always preferable for mental health personnel to conduct
follow-up visits, should they be required, although some departments have paired
a mental health professional with an officer who is not in uniform.
Example: Anne Arundel County (MD) Mobile Crisis Team

Mental health professionals from the Mobile Crisis Team in Anne Arundel County
provide follow up for people with mental illness who have come in contact with local
law enforcement.

8. This does not preclude police involvement in problemsolving teams, when requested to do so by mental health
partners.
9. Many law enforcement agencies around the country use
the Scanning Analysis Response and Assessment (SARA)
model of problem solving. For more information about the

SARA model, see Goldstein, Herman, Problem-Oriented
Policing, McGraw Hill, Inc., New York, 1990; also M.
Reuland, C.S. Brito, and L. Carroll (Eds.), Solving Crime
and Disorder Problems: Current Issues, Police Strategies
and Organizational Tactics, Police Executive Research Forum, Washington, DC, 2001.
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Chapter II: Contact with Law Enforcement

CONCLUSION
Those in law enforcement are continually bombarded with demands from
constituents who want their concerns to be given top priority, mandated training, new resources, or revised protocols. Officers and other police personnel are
frustrated with repeat calls for service that have no satisfactory resolution for
anyone involved. They want to address problems before they escalate into confrontations that can have deadly consequences. They want to use their resources effectively and efficiently. At the end of the day, they want to improve
the lives of people who struggle with mental illness as well as all those touched
by the consequences of unmet mental health needs. It is for them that this
section has been written.
Police are frequently the only 24-hour service providers citizens in a community know to contact for help. Many police departments lack the resources
or mental health networks to reduce the costs—in human lives, quality of life,
and dollars. It is hoped that this report will assist them in finding more immediate help to divert those who are better served by the mental health system,
without threat to public safety. For those individuals whose needs continue to
go unmet, there is still hope that the reforms suggested in the following sections on courts and corrections will prevent them from cycling back to the streets,
no better off than when they started.
These subsequent chapters, in addition to the chapters in Part Two:
Overarching Themes, will help police professionals and others fully understand
how the actions of one component of the criminal justice system can so significantly affect others. The report presents creative strategies for collaboration
and propose the kind of mutual support that can convince policymakers to make
the reforms that each of them has unsuccessfully pressed for individually.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

71

CHAPTER III

Pretrial Issues,
Adjudication, and
Sentencing

I

n jurisdictions where the law enforcement recommendations presented in
the previous chapter are implemented, a great many people with
mental illness who are currently brought to the
court system for possible criminal prosecution will
instead be diverted to an appropriate placement in
the mental health system. For those who are referred for prosecution, the following policy statements and recommendations describe improvements courts can make that will assure that justice
is served while meeting the needs of people with
mental illness.
The extent to which these improvements can
be made depends upon the level of services currently available in a jurisdiction. These policy statements and recommendations are written with two
assumptions. The first is that the policy statements
and recommendations contained elsewhere in this
document pertaining to enhancements to mental
health services are implemented (see Chapter I:
Involvement with the Mental Health system and
Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental
Health System). It would be counterproductive for

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the court to enhance its referral capacities with no
enhancements to existing mental health services.
The second assumption is that the jurisdiction provides such services as early appointment of defense
counsel; a victim assistance office; pretrial diversion through the prosecutor’s office; and a pretrial
services program that provides information and options to the court at the initial bail-setting hearing.
Many jurisdictions do have all these services, and
should be well positioned to take immediate advantage of the recommendations outlined here. Many
other jurisdictions lack one or all of these services.
Even in such jurisdictions, it would be possible to
implement incremental change that could still have
a dramatic impact on how the criminal justice system responds to people with mental illness.
The text includes many examples of initiatives
jurisdictions have taken to improve the processing
of people with mental illness through the courts.
The inclusion of these examples is not meant to
imply that jurisdictions need expensive new initiatives to make improvements. In many instances,
simple adjustments to existing procedures can be
very effective.

Several of the events discussed in this chapter—appointment of counsel, consultation with victims, prosecutorial review of charges, and pretrial
release/detention hearing—all occur early in the life
of a criminal court case. There is, however, no single
process employed in all jurisdictions for when a
criminal case is filed in court. In some, the defendant is appointed an attorney even before the prosecutor has reviewed the charges, or the two occur
simultaneously. In others, the appointment of counsel does not occur until much later in the process.
In some, the pretrial release/detention hearing occurs well before either appointment of counsel or
prosecutorial review of charges. In yet others, contact with victims occurs even before any of these
steps. The appointment of counsel is presented here
first since so much of what is being recommended
in this document depends on consent of the individual for the release of mental health information,
and because consent should not be sought without
first offering the person access to an attorney.

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

7

Policy Statement 7: Appointment of Counsel

Appointment of Counsel
POLICY STATEMENT #7

Make defense attorneys aware of the following: (a) the mental health
condition, history and needs of their clients as early as possible in
the court process; (b) the current availability of quality mental health
resources in the community; and (c) current legislation and case law
that might affect the use of mental health information in the resolution of their client’s case.

When a case is filed in court an inquiry is typically made regarding the defendant’s financial ability to retain an attorney. If the defendant is found
to be indigent, an attorney is provided. If the defendant is found to have sufficient financial resources,
he or she is responsible for hiring his or her own
attorney. Not surprisingly, most defendants in criminal cases are appointed counsel because they are
found to be indigent.
The unique role that defense counsel plays for
his or her client—spokesperson, translator, and court
champion—becomes even more important when the
client suffers from a mental illness. There are three
key issues—all defense related—addressed in this
policy statement. First, it is important that defense

counsel have speedy access to existing mental health
information about the defendant. Information collected by law enforcement, pretrial services and
other justice agencies, or from family members
should be made available to the defense as soon as
they are assigned or agree to represent a client.
Second, attorneys have a responsibility to know
about the mental health resources in the community—both their quality and their availability—that
might be appropriate for clients with mental health
issues, both pre- and post-adjudication. Third, the
policy statement underscores the affirmative obligation of attorneys to be current as to laws that could
affect their clients who have mental illness.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Ensure that defense counsel can identify the mental health status
of their clients as soon as possible after appointment.

The American Bar Association Standards Relating to Providing Defense
Services state, “Counsel should be provided to the accused as soon as feasible

"Defense attorneys are
often ill-equipped to represent people with mental
illness. Training about
mental illness and mental
health resources in the
community is a key means
of ensuring that defendants with mental illness
receive the best possible
representation."
JO-ANN WALLACE
Vice President & Chief
Counsel for Defender
Operations, National
Legal Aid & Defender
Association
Source: Personal

correspondence

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

and, in any event, after custody begins, at appearance before a committing magistrate, or when charges are filed, whichever occurs earliest.”1 One of the first
actions of defense counsel after appointment should be to identify those clients
with severe mental illness. This can be done by interviewing the defendant,
and reviewing the police report and the information obtained by the pretrial
services program. At least one state, Georgia, has a statute that allows defense
attorneys access to state mental health records with the consent of the client.
It can also be done by listening to family members or others who may be in
a position to provide useful information about the mental health status of the
client. Attorneys should be careful, however, not to divulge information about a
client’s mental health status to any of these parties without first obtaining the
consent of the client.

"Defense attorneys aren't
thinking about me as an
individual who has a mental illness. ...They are
thinking about the shortterm of this case. If they
knew more about mental
illness, they would do
things differently."
CONSUMER
Source: Derek Denckla and Greg

Berman, Rethinking the Revolving
Door: A Look at Mental Illness in
the Courts, New York, Center for
Court Innovation. 2001.

Example: Public Defender's Office, Hamilton County (OH)

In Hamilton County, a defense attorney is assigned to the case as soon as it is determined that the defendant may have a mental illness and the case is continued to a
special afternoon calendar. The defense counsel consults with the defendant before a
clinical assessment is conducted by a mental health clinician.

The mental health system should work with the defense counsel to assure
that counsel has all the information needed to effectively represent a client.

b

Ensure that defense counsel can identify alternatives to incarceration in appropriate cases for their clients with mental illness.

In some jurisdictions it falls to a pretrial services program to identify and
track programs in the community that could be used for referrals of defendants, and to probation departments to do the same for post-conviction alternatives. This recommendation calls for the defense to be equally familiar with
mental health resources in the local community. Defense counsel should know
program admission criteria and requirements; required lengths of stay; confidentiality rules imposed by the program; clinical capabilities; availability; and
costs. Finally, defense counsel should be aware of the qualitative performance
of such programs.
Obtaining this knowledge may require access by defenders to expert services. In many jurisdictions, the public defender’s office has staff who assist
attorneys in finding appropriate alternatives.
Example: Public Defender’s Office, King County (WA)

In King County, social workers are assigned to the public defender’s office to help
defense attorneys identify and develop mental health treatment alternatives to incarceration for defendants with mental illness.

1. American Bar Association, Standards for Criminal Justice: Providing Defense Services, 3rd Edition, Washington,
D.C., 1992, Standard 5-6.1, Initial Provision of Counsel.

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 7: Appointment of Counsel

Determining What Is
in the Client’s Best
Interests

In other jurisdictions—particularly small jurisdictions—defenders may
have very limited resources. Yet even then, at least one state has taken on the
responsibility of providing expert services to defenders in all parts of the state.
Example: Georgia Indigent Defense Counsel

In Georgia, much of the information regarding alternatives to incarceration for people
with mental illness is catalogued by the Georgia Indigent Defense Counsel (GIDC),
which serves as an information resource center for defense attorneys throughout the
state. The GIDC provides defense attorneys with seminars and publications addressing the special needs of clients with mental illness. The GIDC is also available to
defense counsel for telephone consultation on individual cases.

c

Develop materials and training programs that cover recent legal
holdings that might affect the client with a mental illness.

Defense counsel representing persons with mental illness must carefully
consider how mental health information may potentially be used—not just in
the instant circumstance but in future hearings involving the client as well.
Counsel must also be aware of the potential ramifications of actions being considered. For example, advising a defendant to plead not guilty by reason of
insanity to a relatively minor offense could expose the defendant to more extensive loss of liberty than in simply pleading guilty. (See Policy Statement 29:
Training for Court Personnel.)

d

Make resources available to the family members and friends of
people with mental illness to help them navigate the criminal justice system.

When a person with mental illness becomes involved in the criminal justice system, his or her family, friends, mental health service providers, and
other advocates may want to help in a variety of ways. Family members may
want to inform the defense attorney about the defendant’s mental health history, to advocate for the defendant’s placement in a particular treatment program, or generally to help their loved one navigate the criminal justice system.
Advocates in some communities have developed resources for such situations.
Example: When a Person with Mental Illness is Arrested: How to Help,
Urban Justice Center, New York City (NY)

Staff at the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project have developed a practical
handbook for supporters of people with mental illness who have become involved in
the criminal justice system. The handbook provides general information about the
criminal justice process (arrest, arraignment, meeting with counsel), relevant statutes, and advice for advocates on working with defense attorneys, as well as information specific to the New York City criminal justice system.

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A defense attorney representing
a defendant with a mental illness
can face difficult decisions in trying to determine what advice to
the defendant would be in the
defendant’s best interests. On the
one hand, the attorney has an
oblig ation to reduce the
defendant’s possible exposure to
sanctioning by the criminal justice system by removing him or
her as quickly as possible from
its jurisdiction. To that end, the
attorney may believe that the best
resolution of a case where the
evidence is strong is a quick plea
of guilty and acceptance of a
short jail term, perhaps even
credit for any time served, and
may make that recommendation
to the court. On the other hand,
the attorney may recognize that
the defendant will continue to be
rearrested if his or her mental
health needs are not addressed
and that having a criminal record
may make it more difficult for the
defendant to obtain a job and to
receive such services as public
housing. In that sense, the attorney may advise that the best
course of action is to try to get
the defendant accepted into a pretrial diversion program where he
or she would be under the supervision of the criminal justice system while in mental health treatment, and where charges would
be dropped upon successful
completion.
There are no right or wrong answers to this issue. Defense attorneys should present all possible consequences to their
clients when discussing options
for the resolution of the case.

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

8

Policy Statement 8: Consultation with Victim

Consultation with Victim
POLICY STATEMENT #8

Educate individuals who have been victimized by a defendant with a
mental illness, or their survivors, about mental illness and how the
criminal justice system deals with defendants with mental illness.

Victims in most jurisdictions have constitutional or statutorily defined rights. Generally, these
involve the right to be informed of key events in the
processing of the case, including charging decisions,
plea agreements, and release decisions.2
Prosecutors or their agents have traditionally
played a key role in the provision of victim support
services, including explaining the often complex
court processes to the victims of crime. This provision of support—explanations and education—begins as the charges are reviewed and filed, and goes
on throughout the court process. It is important to
stress that the victim of a crime committed by a person with a mental illness has no more rights than

any other victim in a similar situation, but may have
more needs. When the mental health status of the
accused is relevant to the processing of the criminal
case, the pain of the victim can be exacerbated by
the even more confusing jargon, procedures, decisions, and even dispositions that might arise in the
prosecution of that person.
It must be kept in mind that most crimes committed by people with mental illness are minor, and
may involve no victim. Victims’ issues, in general,
are most relevant where the crime is a serious one,
involving harm or risk of harm to the victim. The
recommendation that follows is meant to address
these types of crimes.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Assure that victim assistance offices have the expertise to meet
the special needs of people who have been victimized by someone
with a severe mental illness.

In recent years, great strides have been made in recognizing that victims
of crime need assistance understanding both the legal process involved in the

2. See www.ncvc.org for more on statutes concerning
victims rights.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

prosecution of their case and their rights as victims. Many jurisdictions have
established victim assistance offices that provide services to victims of crime,
usually violent crimes.3 Staff from these offices typically act as a link between
the prosecutor and victims, keep victims apprised of the status of the case,
explain the court process to victims, and escort victims to court hearings.4 This
recommendation addresses how offices that provide victim assistance can better address the needs of persons who have been victimized by someone with a
mental illness.

Information
In cases where the accused person suffers from a mental illness the victim
needs to be aware of the ways in which the criminal justice and mental health
systems converge. Defendants with a mental illness may be subject to different
legal procedures, such as a competency screening to determine their ability to
understand the charges and their fitness to stand trial. In addition, victims
may know little about mental illness—its causes, its impact on behavior, and
how best to treat it. Providing such information should be viewed not as minimizing the victimization experienced, but as help for victims in understanding
why they were victimized—an important part of the healing process.

"When someone is victimized by an individual with
mental illness they have a
huge learning curve. Explaining to victims how the
criminal justice system
works and what their
rights are is one of our
jobs. It gets really complicated for us to explain the
role of the mental health
system. We as advocates
often don't understand
how the two relate."
ELLEN HALBERT
Director, Victim Witness
Division, District
Attorney's Office,
Travis County, TX
Source: Personal

correspondence

Confidentiality versus the Right to Know
The rights of victims to be informed about what is going on with their case
must be balanced, however, against the medical privacy rights of the person
with mental illness. It may be difficult for victims to understand that the privacy rights of the person who victimized them outweigh their rights to information. There are actions that should be taken, though, to assure that victims
receive all the information to which they are entitled. Victims should be informed immediately and as a matter of routine of any actions taken that become part of the public record. These would include when the defendant is
being released, whether on pretrial diversion, pretrial release, or as part of a
sentence, with the condition to participate in mental health treatment; when a
competency screening has been ordered; or when the defendant enters a plea of
not guilty by reason of insanity.
In the overwhelming majority of victimizations caused by people with mental illness, however, releasing mental health information to the victim will not

3. There are a number of different ways that victims can
gain access to these services. The law enforcement agency
investigating the crime should have referral information to
victims’ services. Listings for such services may appear in
the telephone directory under either the local prosecutor’s
or the sheriff’s office. These offices may also have web
sites with information on how to access these services.
The federal government also has taken steps to expand the
availability of victims’ services with the establishment of

the Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) within the Office of
Justice Programs of the U.S. Department of Justice. OVC
provides funding to state and local victim assistance programs. Information about OVC is available at:
www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/
4. While many of these offices are administratively located in the prosecutor’s office, they can also be found in
the local department of corrections, sheriff’s department,
police department, or probation office.
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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 8: Consultation with Victim

Victims with
Mental Illness

be an issue because the victim is already aware of the situation. It is estimated
that 85 percent of those victimized by a person with a mental illness are either
family or friends of the perpetrator.5 These victims need assistance at yet another level. A typical reaction of a loved one who has been victimized by a
person with mental illness is to try to obtain help for that person. After perhaps experiencing numerous victimizations without pressing criminal charges,
these victims ultimately may turn to the criminal justice system out of fear or
frustration. When doing so, they may feel torn by being the complaining witness against a loved one. When they wish to do so, they should be advised on
such issues as how to contact the defendant’s attorney, how to assist in getting
a signed consent to the release of the defendant’s mental health information,
and who to contact in the jail to make sure that the defendant is receiving his or
her medications. They may also require additional supportive services to help
resolve issues of guilt in reporting their loved one.
In short, in addition to the general role of victim assistance to explain how
the criminal justice system works and what victims’ legal rights are, when the
alleged perpetrator has a mental illness victim assistance should also be prepared to do the following:
“

explain the causes of mental illness and the impact it can have on a
person’s behavior;

“

explain how the mental health system works, including confidentiality
requirements;

“

define terminology that the victim may encounter, such as “competency,”
“mental health court,” and “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity;” and

“

help family members or others who have been victimized by a loved one
with mental illness deal with issues of guilt.

5. Victims of Mentally Ill Offenders: Helping Family
Caregivers and Strangers At Risk of Assault, New York
University, Ehrenkranz School of Social Work’s Institute
Against Violence, December 2000.

80

6. Hiday et al., “Criminal Victimization of Persons with
Severe Mental Illness.”

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

It is important to note that, contrary to the public perception that
people with mental illness are
more likely to commit violent
crimes, studies show that individuals with mental illness are
actually more likely to be the victims of violent crimes than people
without mental illness. Though
this issue is, in large part, beyond the scope of this report, victims’ assistance offices should
consider developing the expertise
to meet the special needs of victims who have mental illness.
These crime victims often face a
variety of challenges, including
low employment, lack of affordable housing, and substance
abuse. 6

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

9

Policy Statement 9: Prosecutorial Review of Charges

Prosecutorial Review of Charges
POLICY STATEMENT #9

Maximize the use of alternatives to prosecution through pretrial diversion in appropriate cases involving people with a mental illness.

As the representative of the state, the prosecutor is responsible for ensuring that criminal cases
are resolved in the best interests of justice.7 The
best interests of justice can sometimes be served by
extending to the individual the opportunity to address issues that may have led to the commission of
the alleged offense without prosecuting the individual. When the case involves a minor offense or
first-time offender, the prosecutor has the authority in many jurisdictions to provide that opportunity through pretrial diversion.
Authorizing which defendants will be offered
pretrial diversion rests with the prosecutor and is
addressed on a case-by-case basis in accordance with
the laws of the jurisdiction authorizing diversion.
Unlike the pretrial release/detention decision discussed in Policy Statement 11, the decision of
whether to offer the defendant the opportunity to

7. “The prosecutor must seek justice. In doing so there
is a need to balance the interests of all members of society, but when the balance cannot be struck in an individual
case, the interest of society is paramount for the prosecutor,” (emphasis in the original). National District Attorneys Association, National Prosecution Standards, Commentary to Standard 1, p. 11.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

participate in a pretrial diversion program is at the
discretion of the prosecutor. Prosecutors typically
rely on a number of criteria, including the potential
danger to the community, the nature of the offense,
the defendant’s prior criminal record, and the wishes
of the victim, in reaching a diversion decision. When
faced with a defendant with a mental illness, prosecutors should also look at the relationship between
the defendant’s mental condition, whether the defendant was receiving adequate community treatment, and the behavior that led to the arrest.
Highlighting diversion programs designed especially for people with mental illness by no means
suggests that these individuals should not have the
same access to any diversion programs that are
available in a jurisdiction to a person without mental illness.

Diversion Defined8

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Provide sufficient dispositional opportunities for people with mental illness for prosecutors to employ early in the court process.

The crux of this recommendation is the need for more dispositional diversion programs for individuals with mental illness who come in contact with the
criminal justice system. Pretrial diversion programs have been in existence in
many jurisdictions for decades, serving mostly first-time offenders or those
charged with minor offenses. The earliest diversion programs were based on
the recognition that the justice process itself could be harmful—in some instances, criminogenic—and that for certain types of defendants, “diverting” them
from the traditional process into a rehabilitative program and holding their
charge in abeyance would reduce the likelihood of recidivism.9 This same
recognition surfaces when considering the person with a mental illness who is
charged with a crime.
There are jurisdictions that provide pretrial diversion opportunities specifically for defendants with mental illness.

The use of the term “diversion”
here employs the definition
spelled out in the Diversion Standards of the National Association
of Pretrial Services Agencies.
“[A] dispositional practice is considered diversion if: (1) it offers
persons charged with criminal
offenses alternatives to traditional criminal justice or juvenile
justice proceedings; and (2) it
permits participation by the accused only on a voluntary basis;
and (3) it occurs no sooner than
the filing of formal charges and
no later than a final adjudication
of guilt; and (4) it results in a
dismissal of charges, or its
equivalent, if the divertee successfully completes the diversion
process.”

Example: Mental Health Diversion Program, Jefferson County (KY)

In Jefferson County, the Mental Health Diversion Program serves nonviolent defendants charged with either misdemeanors or felonies who suffer from chronic mental
illness and have a history of treatment for mental illness. Defendants who are placed
in pretrial diversion undergo intensive treatment for a period of six months to one
year. Upon successful completion, the charges are dismissed.

Several jurisdictions have been developing models for community prosecution, in which prosecutors reach out to the community to seek input and assistance in both preventing and responding to crime. Community prosecution
may be an effective vehicle for expanding the opportunities for diverting from
prosecution people with mental illness.

b

Ensure that the defense and the mental health community work
together to provide, in appropriate cases, mental health information to the prosecutor for use in pretrial diversion decisions.

When an arresting officer brings a case to the prosecutor’s office, a prosecutor screens the case to determine whether to file criminal charges, and, if so,
which charges.10 The police report, which describes the circumstances that led

8. National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies,
Performance Standards and Goals for Pretrial Release and
Diversion, August 1995, p. 1.
9. For an excellent review of the early years of diversion
programming, see John P. Bellassai, “Pretrial Diversion:
The First Decade in Retrospect,” The Pretrial Services Annual Journal 1, 1978, pp. 14-41.

10. According to the standards of the National District
Attorneys Association, prosecutors should exercise that
discretion using several criteria, including the strength of
the evidence against the accused and the agreement of the
victim to cooperate. Two other criteria are undue hardship
caused to the accused and the availability of suitable diversion and rehabilitative programs. National District Attorneys Association, National Prosecution Standards, 1990.
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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 9: Prosecutorial Review of Charges

Identifying the
Sources of Mental
Health Information
for Court Officials

to the arrest of the individual, might note any overt behaviors that are indicators of mental illness. (See Policy Statement 5: Incident Documentation.) That
report usually is made available to prosecutors very early in the life of the case—
sometimes within hours of arrest. Often, however, prosecutors may have no
indication of possible mental health issues when reviewing the arrest information. The arrestee may not have exhibited symptoms of mental illness at the
time of the incident, or the officer may have believed that the person was under
the influence of drugs or alcohol. Without such information, the prosecutor
cannot consider special accommodations that the defendant might need to be
successful in pretrial diversion or any specialized mental health diversion program that might be appropriate. Procedures have been implemented in some
jurisdictions to gather mental health information for the pretrial diversion decision.
Example: Pretrial Services Program, Pima County (AZ)

In Pima County, the prosecutor uses information collected by the pretrial services
program for the pretrial release hearing to identify misdemeanor defendants who have
a mental illness and who might be candidates for pretrial diversion. Those placed in
the diversion program undergo a 180-day treatment program. Charges are dismissed
upon successful completion of the program; prosecution resumes if the program is
not completed.

In this example and others like it, the defendant has given prior written
consent for the release of mental health information for the purpose of determining possible placement in a pretrial diversion program. The consent should
be provided only after the defendant has consulted with his or her attorney.
(See Policy Statement 7: Appointment of Counsel, for more on consent issues.)
The consent provided should be in writing and explicitly specify what information the defendant is consenting to have released, who is being authorized to
make the release, the parties to whom the information will be released, and the
purposes for which the information is to be used. Finally, the release of mental
health information should be consistent with all applicable confidentiality and
ethical requirements, as well as conforming to the principle that the information released is the minimum necessary to make an informed pretrial diversion
decision. All information collected through this process should also be made
available to the defense attorney.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

A key issue in the release of
mental health information to
criminal justice officials, regardless of the decision point, is identifying all the sources of this information in individual cases.
This can be problematic, especially in larger jurisdictions where
the individual may have received
services at a number of different
locations, or where the individual
is transient, moving from one jurisdiction to another. Ideally, the
individual’s most recent clinician
should have as up-to-date a history as exists.
Identifying the correct source of
information requires that the individual cooperate, supplying the
name of the attending clinician
and providing consent to contact
the clinician.
In cases where the individual has
no prior history of receiving mental health services it may be
necessary to have an assessment
conducted by a mental health clinician before a decision — pretrial diversion, pretrial release,
adjudication, or sentencing — is
made. In such instances, the incident that led to the arrest may
have been the individual’s first
indication that he or she may have
a serious mental illness.

c

Availability of
Mental Health Treatment
as an Option to Courts
in Rural Areas

Expand the options available in rural areas to provide mental
health services for people with mental illness who might be
candidates for pretrial diversion.

The opportunities for identifying or establishing the resources that
would provide the range of options discussed here are much greater in
urban and suburban areas than they are in rural areas. In fact, in many
rural areas there may be no options at all. The chief problem that rural
areas encounter as it relates to viable options for those with mental illness who are in the criminal justice system is the lack of mental health
professionals. For example, more than half of the 3,075 counties in the
United States—all of them rural—have no practicing psychiatrists, psychologists, or psychiatric social workers.11
The mobile units that law enforcement and mental health officials
have teamed up in recent years to institute in many urban jurisdictions
may hold clues for developing a model for options that can be used by
courts to develop release alternatives in rural jurisdictions. These units
are designed to respond rapidly to a person in a mental health crisis so
that an arrest is avoided and the person is taken to an appropriate mental health facility. In rural areas, such mobile units may provide the courts
with alternatives by bringing mental health treatment resources to those
who need it. It may also be useful to make greater use of telemedicine, in
which mental health professionals are available to conduct private telephone consultations with mental health patients from a remote location.

The federal government has been attempting to address the shortage of
health care workers in rural areas since
1987, when the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health (NACRH) was established within the Department of
Health and Human Services (HHS) to
seek solutions to health care problems
in rural areas. The committee has made
several recommendations, such as: increase the awareness of health care opportunities in rural areas and ensure that
students are academically prepared to
take advantage of these opportunities;
and create incentives for health care
practitioners to practice there. Such incentives include financial support for
students who will commit to service in
rural areas, enhancement of Medicare
reimbursements for rural providers, and
granting tax credits to providers who
serve rural areas. Many of these recommendations have been followed and
have brought some relief to the health
care shortages in rural areas. 12
The U.S. Department of Justice, currently
through its Bureau of Justice Assistance,
also provides block grant funding to the
states. In the past, block grant funds
could be used for a number of different
purposes, including to address alternatives to detention for those who pose no
danger to the community. 13
HHS has sought to address the mental
health needs of rural residents through
the Mental Health Block Grant program,
which provides funding to states to improve access to mental health services.14
More than $350 million is allocated to
this program annually. In order to receive their block grant funds, states must
submit plans to address the mental
health needs of various state subpopulations, including those who live in rural areas. 15

11. Georgine M. Pion and Harriet McCombs, Mental Health Providers in Rural and Isolated Areas:
Final Report of the Ad Hoc Rural Mental Health Provider Work Group, Rockville, MD: The Center for
Mental Health Services, 1997.

fice of Rural Health Policy, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services, 1997.

12. National Rural Health Policy: Recommendations from the First Eight Years of the National Advisory Committee on Rural Health, Rockville, MD: Of-

14. Ibid.

13. See the Web site of the Bureau of Justice Assistance at: www.ojp.usdoj.gov/BJA for the latest
guidelines on the use of block grant funds.
15. Ibid.

State and local officials should work together to ensure a coordinated use of
block grant funds from the Departments
of Justice and HHS to address the mental health treatment needs of people who
have been charged with criminal offenses
in rural areas.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

10

Policy Statement 10: Modification of Pretrial Diversion Conditions

Modification of Pretrial Diversion Conditions
POLICY STATEMENT #10

Assist defendants with mental illness in complying with conditions of
pretrial diversion.

Once the prosecutor agrees to offer the defendant the opportunity to participate in pretrial diversion, the defendant is interviewed by a representative of the pretrial diversion program to
determine the most appropriate conditions of diversion. These pretrial diversion programs, which also
monitor compliance with diversion conditions, fall
administratively either within the office of the prosecutor or report to the prosecutor.
A defendant should be informed of the specific
program requirements, length of program duration,
and sanctions for noncompliance. Because people
with mental illnesses, in many instances, will have
difficulty understanding this information and fol-

lowing through on their requirements, extra care is
required to ensure that these defendants report for
initial intake into the appropriate service and continue their participation.
Pretrial diversion programs that serve people
with mental illness should recognize that this population often presents a range of problems that should
be addressed in an integrated fashion. They may
need assistance in locating affordable housing, in
handling their finances, in traveling back and forth
to diversion program appointments, or in obtaining
employment or job training. All pretrial diversion
programs that serve people with mental illness
should be designed to address these problems.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Ensure that interview protocols used by pretrial diversion staff on
defendants with mental illness include questions to identify those
with co-occurring substance abuse disorders.

One way to assist defendants with mental illness in complying with conditions of pretrial diversion is to recognize that the majority also suffer from cooccurring substance abuse problems. According to several studies, rates of both
mental health and substance abuse disorders are significantly higher in crimi-

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

nal justice populations than in the general population.16 Individuals with cooccurring disorders present unique challenges that must be addressed by the
mental health and substance abuse treatment communities. Individuals with
co-occurring disorders, when compared to individuals with a single disorder,
have heightened psychosocial difficulty, including an increased likelihood of
problems with finances, social roles, education, housing, transportation, and
marital stability.17 In addition, people with co-occurring disorders experience
more psychotic symptoms, have more severe depression and suicidality, have
higher rates of incarceration, have more difficulty with daily living skills, are
more noncompliant with treatment regimens, and are high service utilizers.18

b

Design pretrial diversion conditions to address individual issues
presented by each defendant.

Conditions of pretrial diversion should be the least restrictive necessary
and reasonably calculated to accomplish the goal of pretrial diversion, which is
to reduce the likelihood that the person will recidivate. When a defendant is
currently in mental health treatment and the treatment is helpful, it should be
a requirement that he or she continue treatment as a condition of diversion. If
the defendant expresses significant concern regarding the usefulness of that
treatment, a mental health consultation may be needed to determine whether
there are better alternatives available. When the defendant is not currently in
treatment, an assessment should be conducted by a qualified mental health
professional to determine the most appropriate treatment for the defendant,
and then a referral should be made to begin that treatment. This assessment
should be conducted on an outpatient basis.
Those with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders
should receive integrated treatment. Barriers to specialized treatment for this
population include differing mental health and substance abuse treatment philosophies and practices, policies that exclude active substance abusers from
mental health treatment, policies that exclude persons with active psychosis or
other symptoms of mental illness from receiving substance abuse treatment,
and separate local, state, and federal funding streams for mental health and
substance abuse treatment.

16. S. Keith, D. Regier, D. Rae, and S. Matthews, “The
prevalence of schizophrenia: Analysis of demographic
features, symptom patterns, and course,” International
Annals of Adolescent Psychiatry 2, 1992, pp. 260-84; M.
Weissman, M. Bruce, P. Leaf, L. Floria, and C. Holzer, “Affective Disorders” in Psychiatric Disorders in America edited by L. Robins and D. Reiger, New York, Macmillan, 1992;
and L. Robins and D. Regier, Psychiatric Disorders in
America: The Epidemiologic Catchment Area Study, New
York, Free Press, 1991.

17. L. Pollack, G. Stuebben, K. Kouzekanani, and K.
Krajewski, “Aftercare Compliance: Perceptions of People
with Dual Diagnosis,” Substance Abuse 19, 1998, pp. 3344; A. Laudet, S. Magura, H. Vogel and E. Knight, “Recovery
Challenges Among Dually Diagnosed Individuals,” Journal
of Substance Abuse Treatment 18, 2000, pp. 321-29.
18. F. Osher and R. Drake, “Reversing a History of Unmet
Needs: Approaches to Care for Persons with Co-Occurring,
Addictive and Mental Disorders,” American Journal of Orthopsychiatry 66:1, 1996.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 10: Modification of Pretrial Diversion Conditions

Treatment providers and the criminal justice community should be aware
of the complexity involved in diagnosing co-occurring disorders and adapt professional practices accordingly. Identification of those with co-occurring disorders should be occur in the early stages of criminal justice processing.
Research indicates that an integrated model of treatment is most effective
for people with co-occurring mental and substance abuse disorders.19 That is,
both the mental disorder and substance abuse disorder are treated in the same
service setting, using cross-trained staff proficient in both mental health and
substance abuse disorder therapy. Too often, co-occurring disorders are treated
sequentially — individuals receive treatment in one system first (either mental
health or substance abuse) followed by treatment in the other—or concurrently—
that is, individuals receive both mental health and substance abuse treatment
at the same time, but with different therapists or at different agencies. In both
of these models, the burden of coordinating or integrating treatment lies with
the client. (See Policy Statement 37: Co-occurring Disorders.)
Boundary spanners—people who act as liaisons to bridge mental health,
substance abuse and criminal justice systems—should be knowledgeable about
both mental health and substance abuse disorders and provide such information to the courts. (See Policy Statement 26: Institutionalizing the Partnership,
for more on boundary spanners.)
Example: Drug Court, Lane County (OR)

In Lane County, a mental health specialist trained to deal with co-occurring disorders
is assigned to the jurisdiction’s drug court in the dual role of case manager and court
liaison to assist with people with co-occurring disorders who are placed in the drug
court.

c

Develop guidelines on compliance and termination policies regarding defendants with pretrial diversion conditions that recognize the
needs and capabilities of people with mental illness.

The National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies (NAPSA) has standards for pretrial diversion that should prove useful in developing compliance
and termination policies for defendants with mental illness who are placed in
diversion programs.20 Those standards state that diversion conditions should
be clearly written in a service plan signed by the defendant and the diversion
program representative. “Knowing exactly what is expected will decrease the
likelihood of a participant’s being unsuccessful in treatment.”21 The service
plan should also detail what actions could be taken in response to the
participant’s failure to comply with the conditions. The diversion program rep-

19. The National GAINS Center, Treatment of people with
co-occurring disorders in the justice system, Delmar, New
York, The National GAINS Center, 2000.

20. National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies,
Performance Standards and Goals for Pretrial Diversion,
August 1995.
21. Ibid., Commentary to Standard 4.1, p. 20.

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resentative should explore any noncompliance with diversion conditions to determine whether the violation was willful, was a symptom of the mental illness,
or was an indication of the need to change the treatment plan. It must be
recognized that decompensation and other setbacks are common occurrences
for people under treatment for mental illness as the attending mental health
clinician seeks the most appropriate treatment.
Defendants who are terminated for unsuccessfully completing the program
should have their cases returned, without prejudice, to the regular court calendar. Defendants should also be allowed to withdraw from diversion and have
the prosecution of their cases resumed without prejudice.

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

11

Policy Statement 11: Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing

Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing
POLICY STATEMENT #11

Maximize the use of pretrial release options in appropriate cases of
defendants with mental illness so that no person is detained pretrial
solely for the lack of information or options to address the person’s
mental illness.

Usually within a day of arrest, a defendant will
appear in court where a judge or magistrate will
determine whether or not the defendant should be
released pending adjudication of the case, and if so
under what conditions. In making that decision,
the judicial officer weighs the risks posed by the defendant to fail to appear in court and the potential
threat to the community’s safety if the defendant if
released.
Judges, like any decision maker, seek to make
informed decisions and to have a range of options at
their disposal. Armed with the kind of information
outlined below and improved options, the courts

should be in a position to minimize the unnecessary
pretrial detention of people with mental illness.
This is not to suggest that people with mental
illness should never be detained. It is particularly
important, though, that mental illness itself not be
used as a reason to detain a defendant in a case
where a defendant with no mental illness facing
similar charges and with a similar criminal record
would likely be released. In such cases where the
criminal charges do not warrant detention and the
judge’s primary concern is the defendant’s mental
illness, facilitating access to services should be considered instead of resorting to criminal detention.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Facilitate the release of mental health information where appropriate for use at the pretrial release hearing.

Both mental health and criminal justice officials are bound by professional
codes of ethics that define the doctor-patient, lawyer-client relationship. Communications between mental health providers and their clients, or attorneys
and their clients, are protected from disclosure unless the client specifically

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provides written consent for the release of information.22 As in cases where
pretrial diversion is being considered, the written consent should explicitly state
what information the defendant is consenting to release, who is being authorized to make the release, the parties to whom the information will be released,
and the purpose to which the information is to be used. Recognizing that the
privacy rights of the individual with a mental illness must be balanced against
the needs of the court to have all the information that might be relevant to
assessing the defendant’s risks to public safety and of failure to appear in court,
the information released should be the minimum necessary to make an informed
pretrial release decision. (See Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information, for
more in-depth recommendations on information sharing.)
For the pretrial release decision, the defendant is under no obligation to
provide the court with any private information, including mental health status.
In many instances, though, it is in the defendant’s best interests to do so since
it might facilitate his or her release and allow for the continuation of existing
treatment. Seeking consent for the release of information from an individual
who may have a mental illness, however, must be done with extreme caution
because the mental illness may impair the person’s ability to give informed
consent.
If the individual has provided consent to the release of the information,
the next step is to gain access to that information. Jurisdictions have taken
different approaches to obtaining mental health information for the pretrial
release hearing.
Example: Connecticut Mental Health Center

Mental health staff from the Connecticut Mental Health Center receive each day a list
from the court of all individuals just arrested that they cross-reference with their
database to see who is currently in their system. Staff then interview the defendant
and, in coordination with the public defender’s and the pretrial services offices, develop a plan for release. This plan is then submitted to the court.

Two other issues that must be addressed in a discussion of obtaining mental health information are the ethical guidelines of mental health professionals
and the timeliness of receiving that information. Mental health clinicians are
prohibited from conducting a mental health assessment before the defendant
has had an attorney assigned and has consulted with the attorney. Jurisdictions have addressed these ethical guidelines in a way that allows for a timely
assessment of a defendant’s mental health status.

22. Every state has either statutory or regulatory provisions that specify the confidentiality guidelines for the protection of mental health information, although the states
vary greatly in the protections that are provided. Given the
variance in state protections and concern about the growing
ease of electronically exchanging private health information,
in 1996 Congress passed the Health Insurance Portability
and Accountability Act (HIPAA) (P.L. 104-191), which,

among other things, directed the U.S. Department of Health
and Human Services to establish regulations for the protection of all medical, including mental health, information.
Those regulations, which supercede state laws that provide
less protections, became effective on April 14, 2001. The
regulations permit access to and dissemination of mental
health information as outlined here.

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 11: Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing

Example: Public Defender’s Office, Broward County (FL)

In Broward County, where mental health clinicians conduct an assessment before the
pretrial release hearing, the clinicians are on the staff of the public defender’s office.
This expedites the process of conducting a mental health assessment while ensuring
that the client has received appropriate consultation with an attorney.

It is also important to respect established boundaries when court and mental
health professionals work together in these ways. Mental health clinicians
should not make recommendations regarding whether the defendant should be
released pretrial; they should limit their presentation to the court to the
defendant’s mental health condition, history, and needs and how those needs
can be addressed.

b

Ensure that a neutral entity is available to provide the pretrial release decision making officer with all the information relevant to
that decision, including mental health status, and with viable options to address any identified mental health issues.

According to American Bar Association Standards, every jurisdiction should
establish a neutral entity that gathers all the historical information that is
relevant for the pretrial release decision.23 In many jurisdictions, there is no
designated agency that conducts these functions, particularly in nonmetropolitan
areas. In those jurisdictions, the judicial officer presiding at the pretrial release hearing typically receives information directly from the defendant, from
the arresting law enforcement agency, and, if present, from prosecution and
defense.
In many other jurisdictions, pretrial services programs or their functional
equivalent provide this information. When these programs interview a defendant, it is standard practice to inform the defendant of the purpose of the interview, how the information will be used, and of the defendant’s right to refuse to
answer any or all of the questions. The scope of services provided by these
agencies, including the populations that they target, the information that they
gather, and the options that they provide to the court, vary greatly across jurisdictions.
Since jurisdictions vary so widely in the mechanisms used to obtain and
disseminate information relevant to pretrial release decision making, it is not
possible to recommend a single approach to providing the court with the
defendant’s mental health information. However, several principles should be
followed. First, jurisdictions should have some neutral entity that provides the
pretrial release decision-making officer with all the information relevant to that
decision. Second, defendants should be advised that they have the right to

23. American Bar Association, Standards for Criminal
Justice, Chapter 10: Pretrial Release Standards, American
Bar Association, 1989.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

speak with an attorney before answering any questions, and that they have the
right to refuse to answer any questions. Third, the neutral entity should provide the judicial officer with viable options to address identified mental health
issues.
In its interview with the defendant, the neutral entity should ask whether
the defendant has any mental health problems and whether he or she has ever
been treated, either inpatient or outpatient, for a mental health problem. The
entity should recognize, however, that a history of mental health treatment is
not necessarily an indicator of higher risk of failure to appear or rearrest. For
example, if a defendant reported having received mental health counseling after a traumatic event in the past, this information may not be relevant to the
pretrial release decision and the interviewer should use discretion in recording
that information. The interviewer should note behavior, such as the defendant
seeing things or hearing voices that are not apparent to the interviewer.
In some instances, the pretrial interviewer will be unable to conduct an
interview with the defendant because the defendant’s mental condition precludes communication. This situation often can be resolved quickly once the
defendant is reconnected with his or her mental health caseworker.
Example: Data Link Project, Maricopa County (AZ)

As part of the Maricopa County Data Link Project, the local behavioral health authority
receives an automated list of every person booked into the local jail. The computer at
the health authority seeks matches from the jail list with the list of more than 12,000
clients who receive mental health services in the area. When a match is found, the
person’s caseworker is notified and can intervene quickly to see that the person is
receiving proper medications while in jail and to assist in discharge planning.

The discussion thus far makes an assumption about people who have been
referred to the courts by law enforcement and who have been identified—by
observations of third parties, from the results of a mental health screen, or by
the person’s own statements—as possibly suffering from mental illness. The
assumption is that the person has a history with the mental health system and
will direct court officials to the source of information about that history. In
many cases, however, the incident that led to the instant arrest may have been
the first manifestation of a mental illness. In other cases, the person may have
had a history with the mental health system, but either out of mental impairment, deliberate deception, or a simple refusal to respond did not divulge that
history when asked about it.
A particular problem arises for the pretrial release decision maker when a
person is arrested on a charge that involves violence—even if just a simple
assault—and there are clear indications that the person may be suffering from
a mental illness, but the person denies any current or past mental health treatment. The person might also have no prior record of arrests or convictions that

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 11: Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing

could guide the pretrial release decision maker, who is required to weigh risk of
future violence in making a release decision. The best course of action may be
to have the court order a mental health assessment by a qualified mental health
professional. That assessment should confirm whether there are mental health
issues, including past police contacts with the defendant, that resulted in referrals to mental health facilities in lieu of arrest.
Example: Pretrial Program, Hamilton County (OH)

In Hamilton County, pretrial program staff team up with mental health professionals
to have an assessment completed by a mental health clinician prior to the initial
pretrial release hearing. All defendants who are identified by the pretrial services
program during its early morning interviews as having possible mental health issues
are then placed on an afternoon calendar for their pretrial release hearing. The
program alerts the court’s Psychiatric Clinic, and a clinician from that office conducts
the assessment before the afternoon hearing. This approach provides an assessment
by a trained mental health clinician with the results reported to the pretrial release
decision maker without having to continue the case to another day.

c

Ensure that interview protocols used by pretrial services staff also
include questions to identify those with co-occurring substance
abuse disorders.

This issue was described in the discussion earlier of pretrial diversion, and
that discussion applies here. It is of even more importance, though, that screening by pretrial services staff for co-occurring disorders be conducted for the
pretrial release/detention decision. While pretrial diversion may be offered to
only a small percentage of persons with mental illness who have been arrested,
all of them must have a pretrial release/detention hearing. (See Policy Statement 10: Modification of Pretrial Diversion Conditions and Policy Statement
37: Co-occurring Disorders.)

d

Ensure that at the initial hearing defense counsel are prepared to
offer, in appropriate cases, an alternative to pretrial detention for
defendants with mental illness.

Inherent in this recommendation is the support for the American Bar
Association’s call for defense to be present at the initial appearance of all defendants. The initial appearance is a critical juncture in all cases for all defendants. As stated by the American Bar Association, “[D]eterminations made in
the course of first-appearance proceedings are the most important in the criminal process for many defendants.” But the circumstances are hardly ideal:
“Regrettably, these vital decisions often are reached under circumstances that
would not be tolerated at trial. Courtrooms often are noisy and overcrowded,

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

cases are...treated hurriedly, and the entire process is motivated by the single
aim of ‘moving the calendar.” And as for the defendants, “...they are likely to be
confused, exhausted, and frightened, particularly if they have had no earlier
experience with the criminal justice system.”24 Some defense attorneys have
taken steps to be prepared.
Example: Public Defender’s Office, Honolulu (HI)

In Honolulu, by the time a defendant with mental illness appears in court at the initial
hearing, usually the morning after arrest, the public defender will have discussed a
release plan with the defendant and the mental health staff who work out of the jail.

One important issue that should be addressed in the context of the pretrial
release decision is the release status of defendants who have been ordered to
undergo a competency examination. The American Bar Association recommends
that a defendant “otherwise entitled to pretrial release” should not be detained
solely for the purpose of conducting the competency examination. According to
the ABA, confinement for competency evaluation and pretrial release are two
separate issues that courts should consider and rule on separately.25

e

Ensure that mental health information presented to the presiding
judicial officer at the pretrial release/detention hearing is limited
to an indication of whether the defendant has a mental illness,
and, if so, options for addressing it in the pretrial release decision.

Mental health information is relevant to the pretrial release decision.26
Therefore, a defendant’s mental health status should be reported to the judicial
officer making a pretrial release decision—with the consent of the defendant.
It is sufficient in most cases to report the information that there are mental
health issues.
Example: Jail Diversion Project, Connecticut Department of Mental Health
and Addiction Services

Under a program run by the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction
Services, mental health clinicians conduct assessments of defendants with mental
illness prior to the initial appearance in court. These clinicians are employed by the
Department of Mental Health, and not the courts. The only information that they
provide to the court is a treatment plan. The nature of the illness and any diagnoses
are kept confidential. If the client agrees to allow the clinician to share more information with the court, it is sometimes easier to prepare a treatment plan.

24. American Bar Association, Pretrial Release Standards, Commentary to Standard 10-4.2(a), 1988.
25. American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Mental
Health Standards, Standard 7-4.3 and accompanying commentary.
26. In 34 states and the District of Columbia, and in the
federal system, the judicial officer is required to assess two
types of risks: that the defendant will fail to appear in
court and that the defendant will pose a risk to the safety
of the community. In the remaining jurisdictions, only the
risk of flight is examined. John Clark and D. Alan Henry,

“The Pretrial Release Decision,” Judicature 81:2, September/October 1997. Most state statutes require the judicial
officer to consider a number of factors in assessing these
risks, including: the nature of the current charge; strength
of the evidence; prior criminal history; prior record of appearance in court; current probation, parole, or pretrial
release status at the time of arrest; ties to the community;
and the defendant’s character, reputation, and mental condition. John Goldkamp, “Danger and Detention: A Second
Generation of Bail Reform,” Journal of Criminal Law and
Criminology, Northwestern University School of Law, 76:1,
1985.
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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

f

Policy Statement 11: Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing

Establish programs that provide judges, prosecutors, and defense
attorneys with options to address the mental health needs of
people with mental illness.

Providing judicial officers with a defendant’s mental health information at
the pretrial release/detention hearing without presenting options to address
the mental health needs of defendants would likely lead to more unnecessary
pretrial detention of those with mental illness. Information and options must
go hand-in-hand. Options that might be used include assertive community treatment or intensive case management; a rehabilitation program that offers assistance in finding, getting, and keeping housing, employment, and benefits; crisis
residential services; and inpatient treatment. For the reasons noted earlier in
the pretrial diversion discussion, it is also important that pretrial release options include a range of integrated services, including housing, financial assistance, transportation assistance, and employment counseling, and address the
needs of defendants with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders.
A specialized mental health program that is designed to meet the needs of
people with serious mental illness who have come in contact with the criminal
justice system can address this broad array of options.
Example: Community Support Program, Milwaukee (WI)

In Milwaukee, the Community Support Program (CSP) of the Wisconsin Correctional
Service screens defendants identified at the pretrial release hearing as having possible mental health problems. If released with conditions, CSP develops an individualized treatment plan and assigns a caseworker to monitor the day-to-day implementation of the plan. Within CSP there are housing specialists available to assist those
with housing needs, and medical and pharmacy services to prescribe and administer
medications. The program also has the capability to offer financial services to help
clients obtain and maintain both private and public health benefits.

It is also important to ensure that the treatment resources are available in
the jurisdiction whenever needed.
Example: Pretrial Services, Tulsa County (OK)

In Tulsa County, the Tulsa Pretrial Services works closely with the local mental hospital, which is next door to the jail, to ensure that both inpatient and outpatient treatment
is available.

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"The ability to monitor
people on release status is
limited, especially for low
level crimes. Many of
these people need close
supervision, which is just
not available. Appropriate
housing oftentimes is impossible. Without medication and proper
supervision, few housing
programs are willing to
accept individuals with
criminal charges and mental health problems. The
result is that the defendant stays in jail."
HON. MICHAEL D.
SCHRUNK
District Attorney,
Multnomah County, OR
Source: U.S. House Committee

on the Judiciary, The Impact of
the Mentally Ill on the Criminal
Justice System, September 21
2001

g

Design pretrial release conditions to address individual risks and
needs posed by each defendant.

An important principle that should be followed in imposing conditions of
pretrial release, particularly on the population of those suffering from mental
illness, is that the conditions be the least restrictive necessary to ensure the
safety of the public and appearance in court. Overburdening defendants with
mental illness with extraneous conditions of release raises the possibility that
they will be unable to handle them and will fail to meet their requirements.

h

Expand the options available in rural areas to provide mental
health services for people with mental illness who are charged
with a criminal offense.

Many pretrial services practitioners in rural jurisdictions admit that the
typical action taken at a pretrial release hearing involving a defendant with
mental illness is that a money bond is set. Few, if any, options exist for those
requiring attention to their mental illness, and judges believe that they have no
alternatives but to set a money bond. Most often that bond is unattainable for
the defendant, who then spends the next several weeks or months in jail while
the case is adjudicated. This is an outcome that satisfies no one—judge, prosecution, defense, or defendant. In fact, the person with mental illness in all
likelihood will decompensate quickly. As noted in the discussion of expanding
pretrial diversion options in rural areas, a possible approach to expanding mental
health resources may be with the use of mobile units and telemedicine. (See
Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs,
and Classification / Housing Decisions, for more on telemedicine.)

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

12

Policy Statement 12: Modification of Pretrial Release Conditions

Modification of Pretrial Release Conditions
POLICY STATEMENT #12

Assist defendants with mental illness who are released pretrial in
complying with conditions of pretrial release.

Once conditions of pretrial release are set by
the court they are monitored by a pretrial services
program. If the defendant fails to comply with the
conditions, the program notifies the court, after
which the court can revoke the release, modify the
conditions, or issue a warning to the defendant.
Conditions of pretrial release are set for the
purpose of minimizing risks that the defendant will
present a danger to the community or fail to appear
in court. Defendants with a mental illness may have
particular difficulty in understanding and fulfilling
those conditions. In addition, an individual with
mental illness who has been detained in jail—even
for a very brief period following an arrest—can face
tremendous obstacles upon his or her release. In
many instances, the greatest challenge is to find a
suitable, affordable place to live, or to identify a family member or friend with whom to reside. Other

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Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

challenges may include reestablishing eligibility for
disability benefits under the federal Supplemental
Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability
Insurance (SSDI), or Medicaid programs, getting
back to work or other meaningful daytime activity,
and establishing a connection with a provider of
mental health services to ensure that appropriate
treatment and support are provided in the community. Another challenge upon release may be that
jail time has interrupted treatment or has altered
the medication regimen, which may cause some postrelease difficulties and adjustments. Thus, it is in
the interests of both the defendant and the court
that assistance be given to defendants in meeting
the conditions of release. In addition, under the
Americans with Disabilities Act, it may be required
that people with mental illness be given the assistance they need to comply with pretrial release conditions.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Streamline administrative procedures to ensure that federal and
state benefits are reinstated immediately after a person with mental illness is released from jail.

People with mental illness who are unable to afford private insurance to
help pay for treatment costs may be eligible for Medicaid. (See Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility, for more on detainees’ Medicaid and Social Security eligibility.)

b

Develop guidelines on compliance and termination policies regarding defendants with pretrial release conditions.

Placing court-ordered mental health conditions of pretrial release on those
with mental illness must be accompanied by the ability to monitor compliance
with those conditions. The judge and the defense attorney should make clear to
the defendant the consequences for violating release conditions. The responses
to condition violations should reflect the nature of the violation and should,
unless the violations are severe, gradually escalate before imposition of the
ultimate response—revocation of release.
It is important to have a written understanding regarding compliance and
termination policies. When a court orders a defendant to enroll in or maintain
treatment, whether it be for a mental illness, or for drug or alcohol abuse, deference must be paid to the treating clinician regarding the status of the person
in treatment. Decompensation itself should not be considered a violation and
the first response to noncompliance should be an attempt to adjust the treatment. Thus, the clinician or treatment program must assess the client’s compliance with the order to participate in treatment on a case-by-case basis. However, the treatment program should provide the court and the referring agency
with written guidelines outlining its general policy for determining whether a
client is in compliance and when it is time to both successfully and unsuccessfully terminate a client from treatment.
When a violation of a pretrial release condition has been alleged, the court
should hold a hearing looking into the circumstances of the alleged violation
before taking action on the violation. Such circumstances should include attempts by the defendant to comply; reasons cited for noncompliance; and the
nature of the violation. The court should consider that people with mental
illness commonly experience relapses while in treatment, and that finding the
most appropriate treatment is often a matter of trial and error for the treating

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 12: Modification of Pretrial Release Conditions

clinician. Before imposing punitive sanctions for noncompliance, the court should
conclude that the defendant was capable of complying but chose not to.
Given the difficulties that defendants with mental illness may have in complying with conditions of pretrial release, it may be beneficial to have specially
trained staff from pretrial release and diversion programs be responsible for
supervising defendants with mental illness.
Example: Pretrial Services Program, Bernalillo County (NM)

In Bernalillo County, New Mexico, a team of three specialists from the pretrial services
program supervises defendants with a mental health condition of release. These
specialists work closely with a Forensic Case Manager who facilitates client treatment
and acts as liaison between treatment services and the criminal justice system.

To protect the therapeutic/treatment relationship, mental health treatment
programs should not report compliance and terminations directly to the court,
but through the referring court entity—the pretrial services program or the
pretrial diversion program. In most cases, it would be sufficient to provide
compliance information in summary form. An exception would be if staff of the
treatment program became aware of a specific threat that the client may pose.
In that instance, the professional guidelines of the clinician should dictate the
most appropriate method of response.

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Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

13

Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility

Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility
POLICY STATEMENT #13

Ensure that the mechanisms are in place to provide for screening and
identification of mental illness, crisis intervention and short-term
treatment, and discharge planning for defendants with mental illness
who are held in jail pending the adjudication of their cases.

Defendants not released at the pretrial release/
detention hearing are booked into jail pending the
posting of bail or the adjudication of the charges.
Being jailed after arrest is a particularly critical
period of time for a person with mental illness because the stress of incarceration can significantly
raise the risk of decompensation. There are several
important services that should be provided while
the defendant is in custody, including identifying
those detainees with mental health problems; addressing any immediate concerns about their men-

tal health; attending to their mental health needs
while in custody; and planning for their transition
back to the community.
Many of the recommendations below, while especially relevant to pretrial detainees, also apply to
sentenced inmates, whether they are in jail or in
prison. For a thorough review of the issues that
should be addressed when a person with mental illness is incarcerated, see Chapter 4: Incarceration
and Re-entry.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Screen all detainees for mental illness upon arrival at the facility.

This recommendation calls for screening to be conducted on all detainees,
regardless of their known history of mental illness and their presenting appearance. (See Policy Statement 17: Intake at Correctional Facility for Sentenced Inmates, for a more thorough discussion of screening procedures.)
In the majority of jails, staff immediately screen new admissions for basic
issues that might affect housing assignment and safety, but many of these
screens fail to address mental health issues. The screening should occur at the
point of intake, before placement in a housing area. The screening should be
done using a standardized instrument developed under the direction of a quali-

102 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

fied mental health professional. Booking staff should receive training in how to
use the instrument and interpret the results. Several states, including Colorado and Montana, have statutes that require administrators of detention facilities to mandate screening for mental illness at the time of intake. In Montana, the screening is intended to identify misdemeanants who could be diverted
from the detention facility into mental health services.
When the screen shows possible indications of mental illness, the screening officer should arrange for a more thorough examination by a qualified mental health professional. Some jurisdictions have developed a multitiered approach to identifying people with mental illness.
Example: Screening, Summit County (OH) Jail

The Summit County jail has a three-tiered approach that includes the initial screening
by the booking officer, a cognitive function examination by a mental health worker,
followed by an evaluation by a clinical psychologist.

"Building internal jail mental health programs at the
expense of community
based treatment just
doesn't make sense. We
need to help people with
mental illness in their
communities, not wait
until they arrive in jail to
provide adequate treatment."
ART WALLENSTEIN
Director, Montgomery
County Department of
Corrections, MD
Source: Personal

correspondence

Jails should also ensure that the screening protocol includes identification
of suicide risk. Given the high rates of suicide in jail when compared to those
occurring in the general population, it is important that great care be taken in
identifying those at risk of suicide.
Example: Suicide Screening Initiative, Montgomery County (MD) Detention
Center

In Montgomery County, detained inmates are screened at three points of intake using
the same set of seven questions: at central processing, upon institutional intake, and
as part of medical screening. When an inmate is first processed through the Central
Processing Unit, an officer completes the Suicide Screening Form, comprising seven
items relating to current suicidal ideation and past history of suicidal/self-destructive behavior. There are specific questions regarding mental health history and current psychiatric treatment. When inmates are processed through intake, the same
form is completed a second time. Inmates answer the questions a third time when
nurses at medical intake use the same questionnaire. The document first used at
Central Processing follows the inmate throughout this process. If an inmate answers
affirmatively to any of the questions at any point along this three-part process, a
referral is generated to mental health services, who then conduct an assessment.

Example: Suicide Prevention Screening Guidelines Tool (SPSG), New York
State

New York State has developed a Suicide Prevention Screening Guidelines (SPSG) tool
that is used in all local lockups, county jails, and state prisons throughout the state.
SPSG was developed and approved by the New York Commission of Correction and
the Office of Mental Health and has been validated through numerous research projects.
It consists of a structured interview conducted during the booking process by booking
officers, and examines risk factors from past behavior, the inmate’s current situation,
and mental status. If there are indications that the inmate may be suicidal, the
booking officer contacts the shift commander for immediate intervention, who arranges for increased supervision of the individual.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 103

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility

Steps in Suicide
Prevention27

When resources do not allow for a timely, comprehensive, in-house followup assessment to a screen, such as may be the case in rural or remote settings
and small facilities, creative alternatives should be found. These might include
contracting for services with community mental health, or making provision
for interns at local universities who might be available to conduct assessments
on site on a part-time basis. Another option is telepsychiatry, where a qualified
mental health professional is able to interview and examine the detainee through
the use of telephone or closed-circuit television. (See Policy Statement 18:
Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and Classification
/ Housing Decisions, for examples of telepsychiatry and electronic communication arrangements in use in Texas and Alaska.) When a delay in providing a
follow-up assessment in unavoidable, jail personnel must provide adequate supervision to ensure the physical safety of an inmate at risk of suicide until
professional mental health services can be provided.
Individuals admitted to jail facilities may be withdrawing from a psychoactive drug, including both illicit substances and psychotropic medication. It is
important that an observation period extend through the first 72 hours of detention and that the screening protocol be repeated if the detainee’s behavior
indicates the possibility of post-acute withdrawal or mental decompensation.
Jail medical staff should also keep in mind that many psychotropic medications, particularly ones that are used in injectible forms, can take several weeks
to clear a patient’s system. Intake screeners and anyone reviewing medical
records should look for indications of such long-lasting drugs and take steps to
ensure that suicide screening and prevention measures are extended over several weeks in appropriate circumstances. This is particularly important in jails
that have a limited pharmacy and may change the type of drug or form of administration.

b

Work with mental health service providers, pretrial service providers, and other partners to identify individuals in jail who may be
eligible for diversion from the criminal justice system.

The admission of an individual with mental illness into a county or municipal detention facility presents an opportunity to determine whether continued involvement with the criminal justice system is the most appropriate strategy to address that individual’s situation. Once a detainee has been identified
as having a mental illness, corrections officials can work with pretrial service
programs, mental health service providers, and other partners to determine
whether the detainee may be eligible for programs that provide an alternative
to further detention. Some states, such as Montana, have passed legislation

27. L.M. Hayes, Prison suicide: An overview and guide to
prevention, Washington, D.C., U.S. Department of Justice,
1995.

104 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Eight essential steps for an institution suicide prevention plan:
(1) Training of correctional
staff, who are the primary
observers of behavior when
mental health staff are unavailable;
(2) Immediate screening at intake and ongoing assessment;
(3) Communication between
transport officer and corrections officer, facility staff
and mental health staff, and
facility staff and inmate;
(4) Placement in housing appropriate to the situation,
emphasizing use of general
population settings instead
of isolation;
(5) Establishing appropriate
levels of supervision, including close and constant
observation;
(6) Rapid and correct response
to suicide attempts;
(7) Reporting of suicide attempts throughout the chain
of command; and
(8) Follow-up and administrative review, including attending to the effects of
critical incidents on staff
stress.

requiring jail administrators to divert certain detainees to mental health services, either in the community or to inpatient hospitals.
Many programs use detention facilities as the first point of contact to identify a person with mental illness who may be eligible for diversion. Jail administrators who work closely with such programs will help individuals who would
be better served by diversion from the criminal justice system while at the same
time freeing jail beds for more appropriate purposes. It is essential that programs providing alternatives to further involvement with the criminal justice
system for individuals with mental illness consider the multiple needs of these
individuals, especially the need for adequate housing (see Policy Statement 38:
Housing).
Example: Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers Jail Program,
Cook County (IL)

"If I had gotten into this
[jail treatment] program in
the beginning, things
could have been different...
I always wanted to excel,
to do something good...I
don't like the way my life
has turned out, but I have
the option to be someone."
LEON
consumer
Source: William Branigan and

Leef Smith, "Mentally Ill Need
Care, Find Prison," Washington
Post, Sunday, November 25, Section A, p. 1

The Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers Jail Program in Cook County provides intensive case management for individuals with mental illness who have become involved in the criminal justice system. Thresholds case managers work with
individuals while they are still in jail, even accompanying them to court and often
helping secure their early release. Once released, the case manager helps the individuals access mental health services, find employment, and locate housing. Threshold
Jail Program members, as the program’s clients are called, are usually housed in
single-occupancy rooms in local hotels. Thresholds has developed relationships with
landlords, guarantees the rent payment, and provides 24-hour on-call case managers
in case of a crisis situation. Though Thresholds owns some 30 group homes and ten
apartment houses, community and local government opposition prevents them from
using these resources to house most individuals with mental illness who have been
released from jail.

c

Facilitate the release of information to assist in the identification
of need.

While important in identifying people who might have a mental illness, a
screen conducted at booking depends exclusively upon inmate self-reporting.
Yet detainees, and particularly those with mental illness, are often unreliable
reporters of factual information. It is important, therefore, to obtain information about a detainee that can shed light on his or her mental health history
and help the facility to make appropriate decisions regarding classification and
to ensure that those currently in treatment continue to receive it while in custody. In many instances the arresting officers may have input into classification decisions.
Several jails have also developed ways to alert the mental health community when a mental health client has been arrested so that mental health can
respond immediately to the situation.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 105

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility

Example: Cook County (IL) Jail

Through an automated information system, the Cook County Jail electronically transfers its jail census on a daily basis to mental health clinics in the Chicago area. Clinic
staff review the lists to see if they can identify any of their clients. The goal is to
notify these clinics when one of their clients is in custody to aid in the continuation of
treatment while in custody.

Example: Montgomery County (MD) Detention Center

The county detention center in Montgomery County each day posts the names of
detainees who have entered the facility in the previous 24 hours, ensuring that a copy
of the list is available to local mental health providers. Providers recognizing names
of current or past clients on the detention center list may then, without breaching
confidentiality, contact mental health staff at the detention center with information,
including diagnosis and medication, that might help the detention center provide
appropriate services or make decisions regarding placement or diversion. (See also
Maricopa County Data Link Project, Policy Statement 11: Pretrial Release / Detention
Hearing.)

Another way to facilitate the release of mental health information is to
encourage individuals who are at risk of being arrested to provide their clinician
with prior consent to discuss their mental health needs with jail officials if an
arrest and detention occurs. (See Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information.)
Families can also provide more comprehensive information about the mental
health history of a jail detainee. They should be encouraged to share any information that will result in delivery of appropriate mental health treatment in
the jail setting.

d

Ensure that the capability exists to provide immediate crisis intervention and short term treatment.

People arriving at a jail may be in an active psychotic state or may decompensate to such a condition during the period of confinement. Jail staff must
have the resources that they need to intervene effectively with detainees experiencing a crisis. The American Psychiatric Association has offered the following recommendations regarding crisis intervention in jails:
“

Training of jail staff to recognize crisis situations;

“

Around-the-clock availability of mental health professionals to provide
evaluations;

“

A special housing area for those requiring medical supervision; and

“

Around-the-clock availability of a psychiatrist to prescribe emergency
medications.

28. In Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), the Supreme
Court addressed the medical needs of prisoners in the
context of the Eighth Amendment. The court held that deliberate indifference to serious medical needs is prohibited
“whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors
in their response to the prisoner’s needs or by prison
guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once

prescribed. Regardless of how evidenced, deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious illness or injury states a
[claim under the Constitution.] Id. at 104-105.”A prisoner
must provide evidence of “acts or omissions sufficiently
harmful” to show deliberate indifference in order to bring
an Eighth Amendment claim.
Since Estelle, the Supreme Court has only refined the “deliberate indifference” standard once. In 1994 the Court

106 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Example: Summit County (OH) Jail

At the jail in Summit County, one corrections officer is designated as the crisis intervention specialist and receives 40 hours of training each year from the jail’s mental
health coordinator.

The capability must also exist to meet the treatment needs of detainees.
In larger jails, separate mental health units may be available. Often, however,
there can be waiting periods to get into such a unit. In smaller jails, such units
are typically not available, and the most severely ill inmates may need to be
transferred to a state hospital or other secure facility. Regardless of where the
individual is housed, there can be great benefit to ensuring that the clinician
who was attending the individual before arrest continues to monitor the person’s
treatment while in custody.

e

Facilitate a detainee’s continued use of a medication prescribed
prior to his or her admission into the jail.

Inmates are usually prohibited from bringing their own medications into
jail. Owing to formulary restrictions, prohibitive costs, limited inventories, or a
combination of these factors, however, correctional health officials are often
unable to fill a prescription prepared by a doctor outside the facility. Accordingly, the effect of the medications that detainees are taking at the time of their
incarceration is likely to wear off soon after their arrival at the jail. The detainee’s
condition is thus likely to deteriorate, and he or she may commit disciplinary
infractions that will lengthen his or her stay in jail.
Increasingly, offenders with mental illness are brought to jails with prescriptions for the newer, and considerably more expensive, psychotropic medications. In many cases, when facilities provide for the continuation of treatment, they substitute the medications the inmate has been taking with one on
their formulary and readily available in their own pharmacy.
In some states, correctional health officials are required to adhere to the
formulary, even if it is limited. Such policies can have negative consequences
for inmates for whom medications on the formulary are either ineffective or
cause harmful side effects. When a particular medication prescribed by a psychiatrist is not on an institution’s formulary, corrections administrators should
ensure that a mechanism is in place to enable access to the medication within
24 hours.28

said that deliberate indifference “. . . [lies] somewhere
between the poles of negligence at one end and purpose or
knowledge at the other,”(Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
1994). The Court affirmed an “adequacy” standard stating
that “prison officials must ensure that inmates receive
adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care.” (id. at
833), but went on to emphasize that “deliberate indifference” requires a culpable state of mind. Federal District
Courts (the trial court in the federal system) may interpret

"During a visit to South
Carolina, I suffered the
second manic episode of
my life. When police were
called, although I was
exhibiting bizarre behavior
and my wife desperately
tried to advise them of my
illness and show them the
vial containing the medication that I should be
taking, they took me to
jail. At no time during my
stay in the jail, even after
the appearance before a
magistrate, did I see any
medical personnel or receive any medical treatment. If such experiences
can happen to me, with a
Ph.D. in criminology and
my background and
knowledge of the criminal
justice system, they can
happen to anyone."
RISDON SLATE
Associate Professor of
Criminology, Florida
Southern College
Source: U.S. House Committee

on the Judiciary, The Impact of
the Mentally Ill on the Criminal
Justice System, September 21
2001

“adequate” with wide discretion. On appeal to the Federal
Circuit Courts—the layer of the judiciary just below the
U.S. Supreme Court—this has led to vastly varying law,
especially in regards to the treatment of HIV. See Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons: A Report of the American
Psychiatric Association Task Force to Revise the APA
Guidelines on Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons,
second edition, p. 2.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 107

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility

Understanding
Federal Benefits

Jail officials should understand that although there are often several medications that can be prescribed for the same diagnosed illness, the effectiveness
and medical risks of different medications often varies considerably. The practice of switching medications can be particularly ineffective because many psychiatric medications take weeks to build up to therapeutic levels. Common
drug interactions between different medications prescribed for the same problem can exacerbate the delay before the new medication becomes effective and
can create serious medical risks for patients, and potential problems for the jail
staff, if both medications are present in a patient’s system at the same time.
Community mental health programs and service providers should be involved in medication issues for recently arrested and detained defendants. They
can serve as a resource for detention-based health care officials in determining
detainee medication needs, possibly assisting facilities with limited formularies to obtain and share the costs for less commonly prescribed and more expensive medications, if they are required for the detainee’s well-being.

f

Suspend (as opposed to terminate) Medicaid benefits upon the
detainee’s admission to the facility to ensure swift restoration of
the health coverage upon the detainee’s release.29

Enrolling a person who is eligible for Medicaid in this federal benefit program is a time-consuming process. Reinstating someone in Medicaid after
their benefits have been terminated can take anywhere from 14 to 45 days (and
sometimes longer), depending on the state.30 Accordingly, when a detainee
with mental illness enters jail, and he or she is already enrolled in Medicaid,
staff should do everything possible to maintain that person’s enrollment in the
program. Suspending, instead of terminating, the detainee’s enrollment in
Medicaid enables staff to effect the reinstatement of the benefits immediately
upon release, guaranteeing the individual access to the treatment and medications likely to keep him or her from coming into contact with the criminal justice system again.
A myth in many corrections, mental health, and public health agencies is
that federal regulations require states to terminate a person’s enrollment in
Medicaid once he or she is incarcerated. In fact, federal law does not require
states to terminate inmates’ eligibility, and inmates may remain on the Medicaid rolls even though the services provided in jail are not covered. According to
the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, “Federal policy permits, but
does not require states to use administrative measures that include temporary

29. Much of this recommendation and the commentary
below draws on an extremely useful and comprehensive
review of jail detainees’ Medicaid eligibility published by
the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law. Bazelon Center

for Mental Health Law, Finding the Key to Successful Transition from Jail to the Community: An Explanation of Federal Medicaid and Disability Program Rules, March 2001.
30. Ibid.

108 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Several federal benefit programs
are par ticularly relevant for
people with mental illness who
will be released from a corrections facility: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability
benefits; Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); Medicaid;
Medicare; Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families (TANF); Food
Stamps; and Veterans Benefits.
Understanding who is eligible to
participate in these programs and
how they qualify is extremely
complex. Appendix C, a reprint
of a policy brief that the Bazelon
Center for Mental Health Law
published, explains these program rules.
The recommendations in Policy
Statement 13 addresses only
those pretrial detainees who are
enrolled in Medicaid immediately
prior to their incarceration. Many
detainees with mental illness are
eligible for Medicaid but, for a
variety of reasons, were not enrolled when they were admitted
to jail. An essential component
of planning the return of these
inmates to the community is ensuring that they have some form
of health coverage to continue
their treatment plans after their
release. Similarly, jail staff
should facilitate inmates’ access
to other relevant federal and state
benefit programs. The policies
and procedures that should be in
place to accomplish this for jail
detainees are equally relevant to
sentenced inmates, and they are
therefore addressed in Policy
Statement 21: Development of
Transition Plan.

suspending an eligible individual.” 31 Thus, determining when a detainee’s
enrollment in Medicaid should be terminated is, in some important respects, at
the discretion of the state.32
Given these parameters, jail administrators should work with appropriate
state and local social security administrators and state Medicaid administrators to develop policies and procedures to prevent the unnecessary termination
of detainees who enter the facility on Medicaid. Ideally, for those detainees
eligible for Medicaid by virtue of their enrollment in the Supplemental Security
Income (SSI) program, authorities should terminate a detainee’s Medicaid coverage only when SSI eligibility is terminated. (This occurs after 12 consecutive
months of SSI suspension.)
Example: Interim Incarceration Disenrollment Policy, Lane County (OR)

Officials in Lane County have confronted the barriers and disruption in continuity of
care for people detained for a short time in jails. At the behest of the county, the state
adopted the Interim Incarceration Disenrollment Policy. This policy specifies that
individuals cannot be disenrolled from their health plan during their first 14 days of
incarceration, during which the state makes the Medicaid payments. In addition, Lane
County officials developed a relationship with the local application-processing agency
for Medicaid and Social Security Insurance. Now, the application process for those
individuals who did not have benefits prior to incarceration or whose incarceration
period lasts longer than 14 days can begin while the detainee is still in custody.

When a detainee whose participation in Medicaid has been suspended,
corrections administrators should work with health officials to authorize immediate coverage of the detainee upon his or her release. While the confirmation of a released detainee’s qualification of Medicaid is pending, federal rules
permit the reinstatement of the benefits for six months. (This reinstatement
may be terminated before six months have expired if state officials determine
beforehand that the individual is no longer eligible for Medicaid). In those
cases where a released detainee’s benefits are reinstated, and the person’s qualification for Medicaid is subsequently confirmed, officials should ensure that
services already delivered are billed, retroactively, to the federal government.

g

Commence discharge planning at the time of booking and continue
the process throughout the period of detention.

One reality for jail staff attempting to address the mental health needs of
pretrial detainees is that a detainee may be released at any time with little or
no warning to jail staff— the detainee may post the bail or plead guilty and be
sentenced to time served, or the prosecutor may dismiss the charges. Given

31. See October 11, 2001 letter from Tommy Thompson,
Secretary, US Department of Health and Human Services,
to Congressman Charlie Rangel, confirming earlier written
statements from DHHS Secretary Donna Shalala, April 6,
2000.

32. The Council of State Governments conducted a survey of state Medicaid agencies in 2001. All but one of the
states responded. Each reported that they had a policy of
terminating a person’s enrollment in Medicaid upon his or
her incarceration. Collie Brown, “Jailing the Mentally Ill,”
State Government News, April 2001, p. 28.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 109

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility

this situation, it is of little surprise that recidivism rates among people with
mental illness released from jail are exceptionally high.33 Thus, it is important
that planning for the ultimate discharge of the individual be an ongoing process
during the time the individual is detained. Such planning should include arranging for services immediately upon release; ensuring that there is no disruption in medications made available to the individual; and assisting with
other needs, such as housing, food, clothing, and transportation.
Example: Discharge Planning, Fairfax County (VA) Jail

Discharge planning at the Fairfax County Jail is the responsibility of Offender Aid and
Restoration (OAR), a nonprofit organization. OAR staff conduct weekly meetings with
the jail’s psychiatrist to set plans for release for all inmates with serious mental
illness, and provide emergency services for those released before a plan is completed.
Staff of OAR carry caseloads, and the same case manager works with an inmate with
mental illness from the time of booking through discharge.

Example: Case Management Services for Pretrial and Sentenced Offenders, Hampshire County (MA) Jail

At the Hampshire County jail, all inmates, regardless of whether they have a mental
illness, are assigned case managers, who have a typical caseload of approximately
thirty detainees. Inmate treatment needs are assessed at intake, and the case manager then provides individual counseling, meets with the family, and makes referrals
to appropriate resources both inside and outside the facility. Assignment of sentenced and pretrial inmates to a case manager facilitates the process from intake
through discharge planning (and reentry, if applicable). A high level of contact between the client and the case manager ensures that inmates have access to services
and that they do not slip through the cracks.34

One of the most pressing problems facing individuals with mental illness
who have become involved in the criminal justice system is the lack of affordable housing. Housing for people with mental illness should be directly linked
to other services, including mental health and substance abuse treatment, life
skills, and job training. This model of “supportive housing” has been shown to
have significantly higher retention rates than housing alone or housing that is
not directly linked to services.35 Long-term housing is crucial for helping individuals with mental illness maintain stability and avoid involvement in the
criminal justice system. (See Policy Statement 38: Housing.)

33. Lois A. Ventura, Charlene A. Cassel, Joseph E.
Jacoby, Bu Huang, “Case Management and Recidivism of
Mentally Ill Persons Released From Jail,” Psychiatric Services 49:10, Oct. 1998, pp. 1330-37. This study examined
the effect of community case management on recidivism
for jail detainees who have mental illness. The study followed releasees for 36 months. Within the 36 months, 188
of 261 subjects (72 percent) were rearrested

34. As reported in H. Steadman and B. Veysey, “Providing Services for Jail Inmates with Mental Disorders,” National Institute of Justice Research in Brief, National Institute of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, U.S.
Department of Justice, January 1997, p.4.
35. Dennis P. Culhane, Stephen Metraux, and Trevor
Hadley, “The Impact of Supportive Housing for Homeless
People with Severe Mental Illness on the Utilization of the
Public Health, Corrections, and Emergency Shelter Systems,” Housing Policy Debate 12, 2001.

110 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"When I was arrested, I
was living in subway stations. When I am released
from jail, I will need Medicaid insurance so that I
can go to a clinic and get
medication and counseling so that I do not get
sick again. I will also
need to get my disability
benefits again so that I
can afford to buy food and
get a place to live. If I do
not get my medication, I
will end up getting sick
and living in subway stations again. I am intelligent and I am not all that
crazy... I could have been
somebody if I didn't spend
my whole life in hospitals
and jails."
BRAD H.
consumer
Source: Affidavit of Brad H.,

exhibit to complaint in Brad H. v.
City of New York, a class action
lawsuit regarding discharge planning for people with mental illness being released from New
York City jails

Example: Maryland Community Criminal Justice Treatment Program
(MCCJTP)

Through the Maryland Community Criminal Justice Treatment Program, staff in jails
throughout the state work to provide treatment and aftercare plans for inmates with
mental illness, and then provide community follow-up after their release. The MCCJTP
has been widely recognized for impressive cross-system collaboration, focus on cooccurring disorders, transitional case management services, and attention to longterm housing needs. A $5.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development, complemented by matching local funds, allows MCCJTP case
managers to help offenders with mental illness who qualify as homeless to become
eligible for Shelter Care Plus housing funds.36 Local service providers participating in
MCCJTP support Shelter Care Plus recipients with vocational training, substance
abuse treatment, and life-skills training to ensure that these individuals have access
to meaningful daytime activity.

Example: Conditional Community Release Program, Maricopa County (AZ)
Adult Probation Department

The Maricopa County Adult Probation Department has instituted a program called the
Conditional Community Release Program, which is geared toward early jail release of
offenders with mental health issues and provides appropriate treatment in the community at a reduced cost. This program utilizes a contract psychiatrist, probation
officer, surveillance officer, and intake specialist to identify, diagnose, and supervise
offenders with mental illness. Once referred, the inmate is evaluated within 72 hours
by an intake specialist. If appropriate, the inmate is admitted to the program and jail
release planning is undertaken. The psychiatrist will see the person in jail in order to
ensure continuity of care once released, and the probation officer will see the client to
complete all necessary paperwork.
Once released, the probationer may be placed in a housing facility funded by Adult
Probation, or released to their home if appropriate. While in the community, the client
is supervised by the probation officer and surveillance officer, and seen by the psychiatrist for follow-up treatment if not enrolled in community treatment. Using contracts with a local medical services agency, medication is provided at a reduced cost
and necessary psychological testing is performed.
The program is 45 days in length, at which time the client is transferred back to his or
her original probation officer, or referred to a specialized mental health caseload. In
the event the client is not stabilized psychiatrically, the county will continue to serve
the client until this is accomplished.

36. The McKinney Act of 1987 is the major federal housing program to support people who are homeless. This act
defines a homeless individual as (1) “an individual who
lacks a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence;
and (2) an individual who has a primary nighttime residence that is—a) a supervised publicly or privately operated shelter designed to provide temporary living accommodations (including welfare hotels, congregate shelters,
and transitional housing for the mentally ill); b) an institu-

tion that provides a temporary residence for individuals
intended to be institutionalized; or c) a public or private
place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular
sleeping accommodation for human beings.” Technically,
individuals coming out of detention facilities are not considered homeless until they have spent one night in a shelter or similar location. See www.hud.gov/offices/cpd/
homeless/rulesandregs/laws/index.cfm

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 111

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

14

Policy Statement 14: Adjudication

Adjudication
POLICY STATEMENT #14

Maximize the availability and use of dispositional alternatives in
appropriate cases of people with mental illness.

A criminal case can be adjudicated in several
ways—the charges can be dismissed, the defendant
can plead guilty or be found guilty in a trial, or the
defendant can be found not guilty. The law provides
several dispositional alternatives specifically for
people with mental illness— i.e., incompetent to
stand trial, not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty
but insane.37 This document does not make any
recommendations regarding how these dispositions
are used or the frequency of their use.38
Rather, the document addresses other dispositional alternatives to conviction and sentencing
that are available under the law. Although known
by different names, these alternatives are generally
referred to as “adjudication withheld” or “deferred
adjudication.”
Earlier, the pretrial diversion decision of the
prosecutor was addressed. Under the pretrial diversion alternative, the prosecutor decides to hold
the charges in abeyance while the defendant undergoes a program intervention. If successful, the
charges are dismissed. If not, the case is placed on
a court calendar for prosecution. The distinction

between that alternative and those discussed here
is that in this instance it is a judicial, rather than
prosecutorial, exercise of discretion.
There are variations in how jurisdictions make
these alternatives available. For example, under
Florida law, the court can withhold adjudication “if
it appears to the court...that the defendant is not
likely again to engage in a criminal course of conduct and that the ends of justice and the welfare of
society do not require that the defendant presently
suffer the penalty imposed by law.” The court then
orders the defendant to participate in what is called
a “community control” program. If the defendant
successfully completes the program there is no conviction. Texas law has a “deferred adjudication” provision. Under this provision, once the defendant enters a guilty plea, the judge may defer the proceedings
without entering the adjudication of guilt and order
the defendant to abide by certain conditions if the
judge finds that doing so “is in the best interests of
the victim.” If the defendant successfully completes
supervision, the charges are dismissed.

37. Some jurisdictions have replaced the “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity” disposition with “Guilty but Insane,” or some similar variation.

the circuit and district courts found that of 60,432 indictments filed during one year,
only eight defendants (.013 percent) ultimately pleaded not criminally responsible. All
eight pleas were uncontested by the state. Jeffery S. Janofsky, Mitchell H. Dunn, Erik
J. Roskes, Jonathan K. Briskin, and Maj-Stina Lunstrum Rudolph, “Insanity Defense
Pleas in Baltimore City: An Analysis of Outcome,” American Journal of Psychiatry
153:11, November 1996, pp. 1464-68.

38. For a discussion of these dispositions, see: American Bar Association, ABA
Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards, 1989. Cases in which defendants plead Not
Guilty by Reason of Insanity often receive significant publicity, which encourages the
public impression that these pleas are commonly used. In actuality, use of the Not
Guilty By Reason of Insanity plea is extremely rare. One study in Baltimore City of

112 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Provide sufficient dispositional alternatives for defendants with mental illness for courts to employ at any stage of the court process.

At least one jurisdiction has established a dispositional alternative for people
charged with serious offenses.
Example: The Nathaniel Project, Center for Alternative Sentencing and
Employment Services (CASES), New York City (NY)

The Nathaniel Project in New York, NY, run by the Center for Alternative Sentencing
and Employment Services, is a two-year intensive case management and community
supervision alternative-to-incarceration program for prison-bound defendants with
serious mental illness. The program targets defendants who have been indicted on a
felony, including violent offenses, most of whom are homeless and suffer from cooccurring substance abuse disorders. Forensic Clinical Coordinators, who are masters
level mental health professionals and have expertise in negotiating the criminal justice system, create a comprehensive plan for community treatment. Starting work
with participants prior to release, the project creates a seamless transition to community care. Once released, program participants are closely monitored and engaged in
appropriate supervised community-based housing and treatment. Participants are
required to attend periodic court progress dates. Charges are dismissed upon successful completion of the program.

Key to the success of individuals with mental illness who are diverted from
jail or prison under the Nathaniel Project is their linkage to both temporary
and long-term housing. The Nathaniel Project has developed relationships
with housing providers to ensure that their clients will have shelter upon their
release. Housing stabilizes the individual’s life and enables the case manager
to strengthen his or her relationship with the person with mental illness. Housing for individuals with mental illness should be integrated with support services including mental health, substance abuse, employment, and others.
Intensive case management is crucial in helping clients locate and flourish
in supportive housing. Even when housing and services are integrated in a
supportive model, many clients may need assistance in availing themselves of
those services. A dedicated case manager, with small enough caseloads to devote significant energy to each client, is integral to making supportive housing,
and diversion in general, a success.
The mental health courts that have been initiated in some jurisdictions
often use dispositional alternatives. These courts focus specifically on cases
involving defendants with mental illness, usually targeting only those charged
with minor offenses. In some, the charges are dismissed upon successful completion of the program. In others, the defendant is required to plead guilty as a
condition of participation but receives consideration at sentencing if the program is successfully completed.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 113

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 14: Adjudication

Mental health courts vary greatly in the procedures that they employ,
making it difficult to define “mental health court” or to present a mental health
court model. It has been noted that “[a]ny similarities among current mental
health courts occur more or less by chance at the implementation level and
stem mostly from mirror-imaging by new jurisdictions seeking to replicate recently visited mental health courts or to duplicate drug courts.”39 Some have
argued against several elements of specialized mental health courts, including
requiring the defendant to plead guilty first as a condition of participation, and
requiring the defendant to spend a significant period of time under court supervision for a charge that might otherwise bring a very short sentence.40 Others
have argued that mental health courts can be defined as “almost any effort by
the courts to better address the needs of persons with serious mental illness
who engage with the criminal justice system.”41
Using that definition, the policy statements and recommendations presented in this document represent a model that does not necessarily require a
specialized court and does not limit the population of those allowed to participate. Rather, the model envisions an integration of efforts into existing court
practices to balance the needs of people with mental illness who are charged
with a criminal offense with the needs of the courts to process the criminal
case. If jurisdictions choose, however, to implement specialized mental health
courts, then all parties, including the judge, prosecution, and defense, should
receive training on available treatment resources and on how to choose which
program or service is appropriate for each defendant. Furthermore, it is important that courts work closely with the relevant mental health professionals to
ensure that treatment plans developed in the court are successfully fulfilled
(see Policy Statement 29: Training for Court Personnel.)

b

Facilitate the release of mental health information where appropriate for use in a dispositional alternative.

When a case reaches a point where a judge is considering a dispositional
alternative, it is likely that some information about the defendant’s mental health
status will be available in the case file. This might include observations of the
arresting officer as recorded in the police report and the information provided
for the pretrial release/detention hearing. If the defendant’s competency was
called into question, there may be a report in the file from a mental health
clinician on the defendant’s mental health status. Several states have statutes

39. Henry Steadman et al., “Mental Health Courts: Their
Promise and Unanswered Questions,” Psychiatric Services,
April 2001, p. 457.
40. For more on the design and operation of four of the
earliest mental health courts established in the United
States, see John S. Goldkamp and Cheryl Irons-Guynn.

Emerging Judicial Strategies for the Mentally Ill in the
Criminal Caseload: Mental Health Courts in Fort Lauderdale, Seattle, San Bernadino, and Anchorage. Bureau of
Justice Assistance. April 2000, available at:
www.ncjrs.org/pdffiles1/bja/182504.pdf.
41. Henry Steadman et al., “Providing Services for Jail
Inmates with Mental Disorders,” 1997.

114 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"No judge wants to be
faced with a defendant
with mental illness without
the knowledge, tools, and
resources to properly and
fairly handle the case."
HON. TOMAR MASON
Superior Court Judge,
County of San Francisco,
CA
Source: Interview, January 11,

2002, Washington, DC.

that specifically allow for the disclosure of mental health records in court. In
Georgia, records can be disclosed in response to a valid subpoena. In Illinois, a
statute allows for the disclosure of mental health records once the recipient of
mental health services introduces his or her mental condition as an element of
the claim or defense.
Since a dispositional alternative will in many cases be a favorable outcome
for the defendant, the defense attorney should carefully discuss with the defendant the advantages and disadvantages of the possible alternative before the
defendant agrees to the release of any additional mental health information to
the court. In some cases, the defense attorney may find it advantageous to
request an assessment of the defendant and provide the full results to the court
to facilitate a decision to offer a dispositional alternative. In these cases, release of the information would be with the consent of the defendant. (See Policy
Statement 25: Sharing Information.)
Example: Mental Health Court, Broward County (FL)

For possible placement in the Broward County Mental Health Court, public defenders
will often ask for an assessment that includes a listing of any medications that the
defendant is taking, possible diagnosis, family support, social support, housing, and
substance abuse issues. The assessment is done with the consent of the defendant.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 115

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

15

Policy Statement 15: Sentencing

Sentencing
POLICY STATEMENT #15

Maximize the use of sentencing options in appropriate cases for offenders with mental illness.

Several options are available to the court at
sentencing. Generally, they can range from setting
a fine, placing the offender on probation for a specified period, or imposing a period of incarceration in
jail or prison. As the recommendations presented
under the previous court events are implemented,
by the time a case reaches the sentencing stage there
may be information in the court file about the
defendant’s mental health status. The recommendations presented below describe how to build on

that information to ensure that the sentencing court
has all the information it needs to make an informed
sentencing decision. Consistent with earlier discussions, no offender with mental illness should be sentenced to incarceration in jail or prison due solely to
the lack of information or options to address the
mental illness. In addition, the court should never
enhance a sentence solely because of the offender’s
mental illness. Rather, the sentence should be based
on the behavior that brought the offender into court.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Ensure that the capacity exists to complete presentence investigation reports in cases where there are indications that the offender
may have a mental illness.

The presentence investigation (PSI) report, prepared by the probation office, provides the sentencing judge with information about the offender so that
an informed, individualized sentencing decision can be made. According to ABA
standards, the court should order a PSI when it “lacks sufficient information to
perform its sentencing responsibilities,” or upon the motion of either the prosecution or defense.42 In Washington, state law requires the court to order a

42. American Bar Association, Standards for Criminal
Justice: Sentencing, 3rd Edition, 1994, Standard 18-5.2,

116 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

presentence report before imposing a sentence when the court determines that
the defendant may have a mental illness.
A PSI can better inform the court of individual case nuances to be considered in ordering case-specific conditions of probation. The information presented in the PSI report should be neutral; that is, it should include both mitigating and aggravating factors. According to the American Probation and Parole
Association (APPA), the PSI should cover the following items:
“

a description of the offense and circumstances surrounding it;

“

a description of the status of any victim, including the impact of the
crime on the victim;

“

the offender’s complete prior criminal record;

“

the offender’s social history, including family status and residence history;

“

the offender’s educational background and employment history; and

“

the offender’s medical history.43

The ABA standards state that PSIs should not become part of the public
record. Distribution of the reports should be limited to the sentencing court,
the prosecution and defense, and to the entity (i.e., probation, jail, or prison)
that will be responsible for supervising the offender.44 Many states have statutes or court rules that specify that the contents of presentence reports, including any mental health information, are confidential and may be disclosed only
to the court, prosecution, and defense. Most states permit the disclosure of
their reports to correctional institutions that will be housing the offenders for
use in classification.45

b

Facilitate the release of mental health information for use at the
sentencing hearing.

As noted earlier, communications between mental health providers and
their clients are protected from disclosure without written consent from the
client authorizing the release of information. Furthermore, the offender has
the right to refuse to answer any or all of the questions asked by the probation
officer during a PSI interview and offenders with a mental illness need to understand this right. Refusing to cooperate with a PSI interview, however, may
be counterproductive, so the offender should obtain guidance from the defense
attorney on how to proceed before the presentence investigation begins.
It is the obligation of the probation officer conducting the PSI to verify
information contained in the report. As a result, if the offender indicates that

available at: www.appa-net.org.
43. Position Statement of the American Probation and
Parole Association.

44. American Bar Association, Standards for Criminal
Justice: Sentencing, Standard 18-5.6.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 117

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

Policy Statement 15: Sentencing

he or she is in mental health treatment, the probation officer must verify that
with the treatment program. To do so, the offender must authorize the release
of information to the probation officer. The probation officer and defense counsel should work together to assure that necessary written consents have been
signed. The information the probation officer receives from a treatment program should include the offender’s diagnosis, treatment recommendations of
the attending clinician, and progress with treatment.
When an individual’s mental illness is already known, these reports should
include information about any diagnosis that has been made, current and past
treatment, and the resources available in the community that can help the offender refrain from engaging in the same or similar conduct that led to the
arrest. At least one jurisdiction assigns specially trained probation officers to
these tasks.
Example: Probation Department, Orange County (CA)

In Orange County, probation officers specializing in mental health cases develop individualized integrated service plans and present them in the PSI that can include
social services, housing, and medication as well as treatment for those with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse problems.

c

Have a complete assessment conducted by a mental health clinician before sentencing when the mental health information contained in the pre-sentence investigation report is insufficient to
make an informed sentencing decision.
The capacity to have that assessment done in a timely manner by a quali-

fied professional should be available. The assessment should be conducted on
an outpatient basis whenever possible. An inpatient assessment should be necessary only when the person poses too great a risk of injury to others or to him
or herself, or of failure to report to court or to the assessment. In determining
whether such risks exist, the judge should consult the prosecutor, defense attorney, probation officer, and any available mental health records.

d

Ensure that interview protocols used by probation staff with offenders with mental illness include questions that enable staff to
identify those with co-occurring substance abuse disorders.

Just as identifying those with co-occurring disorders is important for other
decisions in the court process, it should also be done at sentencing. See the
discussions on this topic under Policy Statement 10: Modification of Pretrial
Diversion Conditions and Policy Statement 11: Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing (also Policy Statement 29: Training for Court Personnel).

118 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"The access to information
will always be a provocative issue. We need to find
common ground between
the mental health
community's need for
confidentiality and the
criminal justice system's
need for information."
HON. WILLIAM
DRESSEL
President, National
Judicial College
Source: Interview, January 11,

2002, Washington, DC.

e

Establish programs that provide judges, prosecutors, and defense
attorneys with options to address the mental health needs of the
offender.

Those people with mental illness who have been in pretrial detention
throughout the processing of the case, assuming that the recommendations included in Chapter 4: Incarceration and Reentry of this document have been
implemented, would have received mental health services while in jail. It is
common for misdemeanants who have not been released pretrial (either by judicial decision or for inability to meet bail) to be found guilty of a crime and to be
sentenced to time served. At this point, they will be released from custody and
need have no more involvement with the criminal justice system regarding that
particular offense. It is important that some discharge planning have been
undertaken for such offenders, to ensure that their release will lead to a successful reintegration in the community with appropriate treatment and services. Without such discharge planning, the likelihood of their returning to the
criminal justice system in short order is greatly increased.
Some of those who have been on pretrial release while the case was being
adjudicated, assuming the implementation of the recommendations in this section, would have mental health conditions attached to their release. As a start,
the same options that exist for the pretrial release decision should also exist for
the sentencing decision. Additionally, once the individual has been convicted,
the court has more authority to order mental health treatment.
Example: Project Link, Monroe County (NY)

In Monroe County, Project Link has developed a close working relationship with the
probation department to identify offenders most in need of mental health services. It
has a mobile treatment team, consisting of a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, and five
culturally diverse case workers, that is available 24 hours a day to focus on 40 of the
most serious cases.

Before ordering treatment as a condition of the sentence, the judge should,
as specified in ABA sentencing standards, determine that the offender “will
participate in and benefit from” the treatment program.46 The judge should
also determine whether the offender needs mental health services.

f

Expand the sentencing options available in rural areas to provide
mental health services for people with mental illness.

(See Policy Statement 10: Modification of Pretrial Diversion Conditions
and Policy Statement 11: Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing, for more on this
topic.)

45. See, for example, Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal
Procedure, Rule 703.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 119

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

16

Policy Statement 16: Modification of Conditions of Probation/Supervised Release

Modification of Conditions of Probation/
Supervised Release
POLICY STATEMENT #16

Assist offenders with mental illness in complying with conditions of
probation.

If the offender is placed on probation with conditions, those conditions are supervised by a probation officer. If the probationer fails to comply with
the conditions, the probation officer notifies the
court. The court can revoke the probation, modify
the conditions, or issue a warning.
Many of the same issues that were discussed
under the Modification of Pretrial Release Conditions pertain here as well, including assisting the
offender in getting reconnected to treatment and to
financial and housing support after a period of incarceration, and establishing accountability in complying with the terms of release. There is an impor-

tant distinction, though, that has implications for
treatment planning. Once the person has been convicted and sentenced, the length of time that the
offender will be under supervision is known at the
outset—six months, one year, 18 months, etc. While
in the pretrial status, however, the duration of supervision lasts only as long as the case lasts, which
cannot be known when the release conditions are
set. This distinction makes it easier for mental
health staff to develop an appropriate treatment
plan for individuals who are on probation as opposed
to those on pretrial release.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Develop probation conditions that are realistic and address the
relevant individual issues presented by the offender.

Typically, when a judge sentences an offender to probation, the order may
read that the offender is to participate in treatment, whether drug, alcohol, or
mental health. It is up to the probation officer to identify the most appropriate
treatment program for the offender, and then to monitor the offender’s compliance. The key to successfully designing conditions of probation is to identify
first the offender’s individual needs and then identify the services in the com-

120 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Rejection of CourtReferred Clients

munity that can meet those needs. The information contained in the presentence investigation report, in addition to information taken at probation intake,
should be very useful in identifying the needs of the individual offender.

b

Streamline administrative procedures to ensure that federal and
state benefits are reinstated immediately after a person with mental illness is released from jail.

In instances when the person was on pretrial release while the case was
pending there should have been no disruption in the receipt of benefits. When
the person was held in jail pretrial, however, or where there was a split sentence—i.e., 30 days in jail followed by two years probation—benefits would have
to be reinstated very soon after release so that the offender can begin to comply
with the probation conditions. Probation officers should identify benefits for
which an offender is eligible and assist the offender with the application or
reinstatement process. (See Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal
Detention Facility, for more on federal and state benefits.)

c

Assign offenders with mental health conditions on probation to
probation officers with specialized training and small caseloads.

One important issue that should
be addressed in any discussion
of court referrals to mental health
programs is the rejection of clients by programs that have restrictive admission criteria. A
common frustration for courts is
to identify a person with mental
health needs, consult its inventory of programs, and be unable
to find a program that, because
of the person’s charge, treatment
history, or lack of insurance, is
willing to accept the person. (See
Policy Statement 1: Involvement
with the Mental Health System.)
One strategy to address this issue is the development of written agreements between the referring entity and mental health
agencies. 47 (See Policy Statement 26: Institutionalizing the
Partnership, for more on written
agreements between criminal justice and mental health partners.)

Most probation officers carry very high caseloads, making it very difficult
to provide close supervision. Offenders with mental illness recidivate at a higher
rate than those without mental illnesses, and they often do so within the first
months of release. Close supervision by probation officers, including the time
to attend to the individual needs of offenders with mental illness, will help to
ensure compliance with conditions of release, and help to reduce recidivism. It
is also important that these offenders be assigned to probation officers who
have been specially trained to address the needs of offenders with mental illness. Such an approach has been used with success in at least one jurisdiction.
Example: Adult Probation Department, Cook County (IL)

The Mental Health Unit of the Cook County, Illinois, Adult Probation Department is
comprised of probation officers with a background in mental health. These officers
are qualified to perform the following functions:
“

conduct clinical assessments

“

make referrals

“

develop supervision plans

“

monitor compliance with probation conditions, medication requirements, and
other treatment objectives

46. American Bar Association, Standards for Criminal
Justice: Sentencing, Standard 18-3.13.
47. “Repeated rejections of clients can be avoided if
program administrators sign contractual agreements with
local mental health agencies to ensure that clients will be

accepted for services,” Arthur J. Lurigio and James A.
Swartz, “Changing the Contours of the Criminal Justice
System to Meet the Needs of Persons With Serious Mental
Illness,” in Criminal Justice 2000, Volume 3: Policies, Processes, and Decisions of the Criminal Justice System, edited by Julie Horney, Washington, D.C., National Institute of
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 121

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

“
“

Policy Statement 16: Modification of Conditions of Probation/Supervised Release

assist probationers in obtaining disability and other benefits
serve as advocates for probationers in their efforts to obtain mental health
treatment.

Mental health providers whose clients are on probation, while being careful not to become monitors of compliance, can also assist the individual to understand the consequences of their behavior in terms of sanctions and can build
a collaborative relationship with the specialized probation officers that can benefit the individual. In this way, the probation officer can have more confidence
when making decisions on how to respond to violations. For example, the officer and the provider can meet jointly with the individual to identify barriers
to compliance and to make changes in the treatment plan or probation rules as
necessary.

d

Develop guidelines on compliance and violation policies regarding
offenders with mental illness.

It is important to establish incentives for probationers with mental illness
to comply with conditions. Such incentives could include reducing the frequency
of reporting after a period of compliance.
Example: Adult Probation Department, Cook County (IL)

The Mental Health Unit of the Cook County Adult Probation Department has three
phases, each lasting a minimum of three months. The first phase is the most restrictive. Advancement to the next phases is contingent upon the probationer’s compliance. Once advanced to a less restrictive phase, the probationer can be returned to
the previous phase for noncompliance. Upon successful completion of all three phases,
the probationer is placed in the standard probation supervision program for the remainder of his or her term.

Probation officers should be prepared to respond to offenders with mental
illness who violate the conditions of probation in a way that recognizes that the
violation may be a function of the offender’s illness but that also holds the offender accountable. When a probationer commits a technical violation—for
example, failure to report to treatment—probation officers should employ a
graduated scheme of responses before employing the most serious response,
that is, revocation of release. State law in Washington provides that, when an
offender with a mental illness violates a condition of a release that involves
failure to undergo mental status evaluation or treatment, the community corrections officer must consult with the treatment provider before taking action
on the violation. Responding to minor technical violations early may obviate
the need for revocation and may prevent more serious violations, such as
reoffending. In developing intermediate responses, criminal justice officials
should establish written agreements with mental health treatment programs

122 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"You want [defendants] to
think about the consequences—stay on track,
you get a reward; mess
up, you get punished. But
what if they're confused
and can't think straight
because their medication
is wrong? That's not their
fault. It's not right to punish them then."
CONSUMER
Derek Denckla and Greg Berman,
Rethinking the Revolving Door:
A Look at Mental Illness in
the Courts.

Rearrest on
New Charges

as to actions that will be taken for failure to participate in treatment. When a
probationer’s mental condition decompensates while under probation supervision, a more appropriate response would be to modify the treatment plan rather
than to seek the revocation of probation.
At least one jurisdiction has developed a program that seeks to prevent a
probation revocation by offering intensive treatment rather than incarceration
for those who violate probation conditions.
Example: The Nathaniel Project, Center for Alternative Sentencing and
Employment Services (CASES), New York City (NY)

Among the groups targeted by the Nathaniel Project in New York, New York, (mentioned earlier) run by the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services,
are offenders with mental illness who have violated conditions of probation. Case
managers are clinically trained professionals with caseloads of only ten. Staff assist
participants in obtaining medication, housing, and other services, i.e., day treatment,
psychosocial clubhouse, vocational training, and job placement. (See Policy Statement 14: Adjudication, for more on The Nathaniel Project.)

It is not uncommon for people
under supervision for a current
charge—whether pretrial diversion, pretrial release, or probation—to be rearrested on a new
charge. A person with mental illness who is released from custody may need time to stabilize
and rearrests may result during
periods of decompensation..
When rearrests occur, courts
should treat them as they would
other violations of the conditions
of supervision, weighing the seriousness of the rearrest charge,
and the person's compliance with
other conditions of supervision.
A rearrest on a new offense
should not in and of itself be a
reason for denying pretrial release in the new case or for revoking release in the first case.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 123

Chapter III: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication and Sentencing

CONCLUSION
Leaders in jurisdictions able to implement the changes proposed in this
chapter (along with those offered in the two preceding chapters, Involvement
with the Mental Health System and Contact with Law Enforcement) will have
gone a long way toward ensuring that persons with mental illness that come in
contact with the criminal justice system will be treated fairly and appropriately. Improved collaboration with mental health providers, access to appropriate information, and increased awareness about mental illness will better prepare the courts to determine the proper resolution of cases involving defendants
with mental illness. Sometimes, justice will be best served through diversion
programs that help individuals with mental illness obtain treatment and support services. Many defendants with mental illness, however, will eventually
be incarcerated.
The next chapter, Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry, focuses on an
area of the criminal justice system that is too often overlooked—corrections.
Correctional institutions are the ultimate destination for many individuals with
mental illness who become involved with the criminal justice system; in many
ways, they have become the country’s new mental health institutions.
It is important for officials who focus on pretrial issues, adjudication, and
sentencing to become familiar with the policies and programs that need to be in
place to identify, treat, and prepare for release people with mental illness who
are incarcerated. These are the issues that the subsequent set of policy statements address.

124 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 125

CHAPTER IV

Incarceration and
Reentry

O

One of the most dramatic public
policy shifts (some refer to it as a
"social experiment") during the
last three decades in the United
States has been the unprecedented increase of the
number of people who are incarcerated. The national prison population grew by nearly six-fold
between 1970 and 2000 and the combined prison
and jail population in 2000 was 1.9 million.1 Approximately 10 million people are booked into U.S.
jails each year.2
The extraordinary growth of prison and jail
systems has presented enormous challenges to corrections administrators. Of these challenges, few,
if any, are more formidable than operating a comprehensive mental health service delivery system
for inmates. Increasing budgetary pressures on
corrections systems make this challenge especially
daunting. Estimates regarding the number of

people with mental illness in prison or jail vary.
The US Department of Justice reported in 1999 that
about 16 percent have a mental illness.3
Like the policy statements in the preceding
chapters, the following policy statements do not
suggest that people with mental illness should not
be held accountable for their behavior. Indeed,
given the crime they committed, it is appropriate
and necessary for some people with mental illness
to be incarcerated.
The policy statements in this chapter adhere
to the principle that identifying inmates with mental illness, treating them, and preparing them for
release is good corrections policy. And it is the right
thing to do. It improves corrections administrators’ ability to protect people with mental illness
while they are incarcerated, to maintain calm environments in the facilities, and to promote staff
safety. Perhaps most importantly, the vast major-

1. The Sentencing Project, State Sentencing and Corrections Policy in an Era of
Fiscal Restraint, available at: www.sentencingproject.org.

3. Ditton, Mental Health and Treatment, p. 1

2. Correctional Populations in the United States, U.S. Department of Justice Statistics, NCJ-163916, 1997.

126 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

ity of people in prison or jail will ultimately re-enter the community. Screening inmates for mental
illness, delivering effective services, providing appropriate housing, and developing a comprehensive
treatment plan improve the likelihood that an inmate with mental illness will return to the community (and to his or her loved ones) healthy and
safely.
The policy statements in this chapter go beyond what should happen when a person with mental illness is incarcerated. They also address the
role of community corrections officials in monitoring and assisting people with mental illness who
are released from prison or jail under some form of
supervision. Furthermore, they review the pivotal
role of the mental health system in maintaining
the person on a path toward recovery once the person is released.

127
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 127

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

17

Policy Statement 17: Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates

Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates
POLICY STATEMENT #17

Develop a consistent approach to screen sentenced inmates for mental illness upon admission to state prison or jail facilities and make
referrals, as appropriate, for follow-up assessment and/or evaluations.

Every correctional system has procedures in
place to receive a sentenced inmate admitted to an
institution. These intake procedures typically are
used for inmates who arrive at the institution from
a detention facility immediately following their sentencing or for inmates who have been transferred
from a different institution.
Recommendations under this policy statement
explain how corrections administrators can ensure
that each sentenced offender entering the institution is screened for potential mental illness. These
recommendations include the following: the key
elements of a screening instrument and its administration; procedures to follow up on the results; and
protocols for evaluating its effectiveness.
Typically, when institutional intake staff receive
inmates, they fingerprint them, conduct a medical
exam, and review a host of issues in order to make
decisions about classification, housing, and other
programmatic or special needs. Determining
whether the inmate needs mental health services
should be a critical component of the inmate booking and receiving process. Immediately upon the
inmate’s arrival at the facility, it is especially important for staff to determine whether the inmate
has any suicidal tendencies or poses a danger to self
or others, and whether he or she is taking psychotropic medication.

128 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Not adequately screening inmates to determine
the possible existence of a mental illness jeopardizes
the safety of personnel and inmates alike. Identifying and addressing mental illness among inmates
will minimize the likelihood of an offender’s risk of
hurting him-or herself or others. It may also minimize the incidence of hospitalization, assaults on
officers or other inmates, or other incidents that may
generate considerable harm and costs. Responding
to mental illness at a late stage requires the most
expensive and intensive level of mental health care
as well as collateral costs such as lost personnel time,
overtime, and compensatory time when officers are
injured.
In addition, with a consistent, system-wide approach in place for identifying inmates with mental
illness, correctional administrators are able to compile the data needed to understand the scope of
mental illness within their institutions. This, in turn,
enhances their ability to project the future mental
health needs of their agencies and communicate to
policymakers the changing needs of prisoners.
Some correctional administrators fear that a
mental health screening process may overstate the
mental health needs of the inmate population, and
thus generate excessively expensive use of mental
health services. Aside from identifying those indi-

viduals who are of immediate concern and who
should receive urgent attention, however, a properly designed and implemented screening function
during the receiving and intake process only suggests when there may be a potential mental health
problem that should be further assessed. It serves
as a form of triage, ensuring a cost-effective use of
resources. Screening alone is not intended to provide a diagnosis or determine the need for services
or medication.
Implementation recommendations contained
here are consistent with the American Psychiatric
Association’s (APA) Task Force for Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons, which, since 1990, has
developed guidelines for the delivery of mental
health services in jails and prisons. Consistent with
the APA, recommendations under this policy statement recognize the varying levels of services provided upon admissions:4
“

Receiving Mental Health Screening.
Mental health information and observations
gathered for every new admitted inmate
during the intake procedures as part of the
normal reception and classification process

by using standard forms and following standard procedures.
“

“

Referral. The process by which inmates
who appear to be in need of mental health
treatment receive targeted assessment or
evaluation so that they can be assigned to
appropriate services.
Intake Mental Health Screening. A more
comprehensive examination performed on
each newly admitted inmate within 14 days
of arrival at an institution. It usually includes a review of the medical screening,
behavior observations, an inquiry into any
mental health history, and an assessment
of suicide potential.

As a result of the above, the APA advises, professional clinicians would then conduct the following:
“

Comprehensive Mental Health Evaluation. A face-to-face interview of the patient and a review of all reasonably available health care records and collateral
information. It includes a diagnostic formulation and, at least, an initial treatment plan.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Incorporate screening for mental illness and referral to mental
health services into the existing receiving/admission protocol by
integrating into the process a screening instrument along with observations by those charged with booking newly received inmates
into the receiving/admission process.

The purpose of a screening instrument is to identify inmates with mental
illness immediately upon their arrival at the institution and to prompt referral
for further assessment of those inmates’ mental health needs.5 Screening instruments typically are paper-and-pencil forms that may be completed by the
inmate or used as a structured interview protocol by any trained staff person.
It should take no longer than 10 to 15 minutes to conduct a screening.
There are no validated instruments for mental health screening in adult
populations. Most correctional settings use a series of questions that seek in4. American Psychiatric Association, Psychiatric Services
in Jails and Prisons: A Report of the American Psychiatric
Association Task Force to Revise the APA Guidelines on
Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons, second edition,
pp. 31-46.

5. American Psychiatric Association Guidelines on Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons provide that mental
health and suicide screening should be completed immediately upon the inmate’s arrival in prison. Ibid., p. 40.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 129

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 17: Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates

formation on past psychiatric services or current medications. Systematic attention to current psychiatric symptomatology is often cursory. The New York
State Office of Mental Health has developed Suicide Prevention Screening Guidelines that have face validity as a screening measure for suicide, and the state
trains its correctional staff in the application of this tool.6
Recognizing the need for a reliable screening tool, the National Institute of
Justice has recently funded research at the University of Maryland to develop
and test a nine-item Brief Jail Mental Health Screen. Correctional settings in
Maryland and New York are participating in this study. Until a validated instrument emerges, correctional administrators should work with their mental
health staff to ensure questions are asked early on in the process that are sensitive to critical mental health issues. The discussion that follows addresses
other issues essential in an effective screening instrument.
Self-assessment should never entirely replace critical observations by staff.
Use of a self-administered intake screening instrument does not absolve correctional or clinical staff of the responsibility to query and observe for mental
illness at the time of intake. Training staff for such responsibilities is essential.
(See Policy Statement 30: Training for Corrections Personnel.)
In general, when an effective screening instrument is implemented properly, staff will more often incorrectly identify someone as exhibiting signs or
symptoms of mental illness than overlook someone who truly has a mental
illness. Erring on the side of caution at the outset increases the likelihood that
high-risk cases are discovered; only a relatively small percentage of mental
health assessments are conducted when they are not needed. A useful screen
will send a significant percentage of inmates (perhaps as many as 25 percent)
forward for a more comprehensive evaluation.
Example: Screening Instrument, Oregon Department of Corrections

In Oregon, staff administer a group-led pen-and-pencil instrument to all offenders
admitted at the time of intake. This instrument generally identifies 30 percent of the
population as having a mental illness. When this 30 percent are referred for professional assessment, the percentage assessed as having a significant mental illness is
reduced to 17 percent.7

A screening instrument should use an objective scoring system. Many
jurisdictions use a straightforward numeric scoring system, resulting in a “red
flag” or “green flag” determination of the possible presence of a mental illness.
Though effective screening instruments currently in use vary considerably, each
tool must address the following: suicidality; depression; use of narcotic drugs
and alcohol; anxiety; history of hospitalization for psychiatric problems; trauma
history; and the use of any medications prescribed for a mental illness.
Substance abuse greatly influences symptoms of mental illness. For this
reason, and because the majority of people with mental illness who are incar-

6. Fred Osher, Director, Center for Behavioral Health, Justice and Public Policy, private correspondence, April 18,
2002.

7. Gary Field, Administrator, Counseling and Treatment
Services, Department of Corrections, private correspondence, February 2002.

130 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

cerated have a co-occurring substance abuse disorder, staff should screen for
substance abuse in tandem with mental health. Subsequent assessments should
allow clinicians to observe the individual in a drug-free state over time in order
to separate the causes and effects of substance abuse on mental health.
Ideally, the intake process would be seamless, incorporating health screening, mental health screening, classification procedures, and other protocols. This
process could be captured in a single, integrated instrument, such as the one
being developed by the University of Maryland.
In some states, properly trained correctional officers—especially those with
close and sustained contact with inmates during the first few days of incarceration—serve as initial, informal screeners. They may be in the best position to
observe behavior and to identify signs and symptoms of mental illness, particularly when such symptoms emerge several days after intake. Although this
measure may seem inefficient, given the screening that mental health staff will
perform later, such redundancy is in fact cost-efficient; it effectively narrows
the pool of inmates who receive a professional assessment to those who are
most likely to have a mental illness.

b

Ensure consistency of screening protocols within correctional system by using the same screening instrument at all facilities statewide and training facility staff in their use.

In many correctional systems, a different mental health screening instrument is employed at each prison in the system. Such variation among the prisons is complicated and compounded by the procedures in use at county jails,
where staff at each facility typically employ a distinct instrument and process
(if one is used at all) to screen inmates for mental illness. Although it may be a
challenge, particularly in states with an elaborate network of independent county
jails, state officials should require the use of the same screening and assessment instruments and protocols at all correctional facilities in the state. The
American Psychiatric Association recommends standardizing mental health
screening procedures and instruments so that the responses can be documented
in a consistent fashion.9
Uniformity in screening procedures has numerous advantages. It can provide valuable information about the impact of transfers, the incidence of inmate decompensation, and identify trends occurring over time. It also enables
state correctional systems to collect data needed to inform research and evaluations and to support legislative advocacy and public education. To achieve
uniformity, directors of state departments of corrections may be able to issue an
administrative order. In other states, however, leadership from mental health
8. Information cited by Charles Curie, Administrator, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
(SAMHSA), and former Deputy Secretary for Mental Health
and Substance Abuse Services for the Department of Public Welfare of the State of Pennsylvania, in an address to

Co-occurring
Disorders in Prison
In 2001, at the request of the
Pennsylvania Office of Mental
Health and Substance Abuse, the
Pennsylvania Department of Corrections assembled data on the
mental health and treatment status of its inmate population in
all Pennsylvania state prisons
over a four-year period. The data
revealed that 90 percent of the
inmate population had an issue
with substance use, of which they
estimated about 75 percent had
a substance abuse problem serious enough to warrant treatment.
Concurrently, about 15 percent of
the total Pennsylvania inmate
population had a mental disorder.
Of the 15 percent of inmates with
mental health disorders, 90 percent also had a substance use
issue and an estimated 75 percent warranted drug and alcohol
treatment. These data were consistent over four consecutive
years. 8 This prevalence of inmates with co-occurring disorders
is certainly not unique to Pennsylvania.
Although this chapter of the report does not assume that an inmate with a mental illness has a
co-occurring substance abuse
disorder, it does recognize that
the assessment, housing, program, treatment, case management, and habilitation needs of
inmates with mental illness must
address substance abuse issues
as well if they are to be effective.

the Council of State Government Criminal Justice / Mental
Health Consensus Project Advisory Board Meeting in January 2002, and reported by Teddy Fine, M.A., Director of
Communications Policy and Strategy, Substance Abuse
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
9. APA, Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons, p. 41.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 131

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 17: Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates

agencies or statewide legislative advocacy may be necessary, especially when
county government officials are unwilling to assume the financial implications
of implementing such an order.
Example: Screening Instrument, New York State Office of Mental Health

In an attempt to encourage uniformity of mental health screening, assessment, and
referral procedures, the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) has been
developing model policies and instruments for use in New York’s county and municipal jails. First, in 1985, OMH developed and field-tested a suicide screening protocol
for use in the jails. The New York State Commission of Correction, which accredits
and oversees the development of new technology for jails and prisons in the state,
adopted the suicide screening protocol and now requires all county jails and penitentiaries and state prisons to employ it.
More recently, OMH, in association with the New York State Office of Alcoholism and
Substance Abuse Services (OASAS), has been involved in sponsoring jail validation
studies of two receiving screening instruments developed by the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research for use in community settings. One, the “MINI Screen,”
was designed to identify individuals with substance abuse problems who are receiving
services in community mental health settings. The second, the “DALI Screen,” was
designed to identify individuals with mental health problems who are receiving treatment in substance abuse settings.10 At the time of publication of this report, the jail
validation study involving 400 newly admitted detainees and offenders at New York
State county jails had just gotten under way.

In states and localities where correctional institutions are located at considerable distance from one another, some jurisdictions have relied on information technology to ensure consistent screening and assessment methods.
Example: Suicide Screening Initiative, Alaska Department of Corrections

There are 13 correctional facilities and pretrial facilities in Alaska, a state where
geography and low population density present particular challenges. To ensure consistent, comprehensive inmate mental health screening, the Alaska Department of
Corrections has developed a screening tool that trained, nonmedical staff can download, administer, and return completed almost immediately to the department’s central office using handheld personal desk assistants or Palm Pilots. Mental health
professionals in the central office can then make assessments and recommend or
initiate appropriate interventions, if needed.
The Palm Pilot serves not only as an electronic means of keeping medical records, but
as a platform for the entire management information system. All clinicians perform
the same, standardized exam on the Palm Pilot. The information is then uploaded to
a statewide computer network and becomes available for printing of medical files.
The system makes it possible to generate information in summary and/or aggregate
form, thereby facilitating quality assurance and research.

As is the case in many correctional facilities, Alaska’s Suicide Screening
Initiative relies exclusively on inmate self-reported information. It is important, however, to use sources other than the inmate alone to supplement selfreported mental health information. Self-reports are not always reliable, and
10. M.J. Alexander, “Validating the MINI Screen for Mental Health Problems in Chemical Dependency Treatment
Settings” and “Validating the DALI Screen for Substance

Abuse in Mental Health Treatment Settings,” The Nathan
Kline Institute of the Center for the Study of Issues in
Public Mental Health, Orangeburg, NY.

132 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

they rarely provide a complete picture of an inmate’s mental health treatment
history; sometimes, they also fail to shed light on co-occurring disorders. It is
essential to obtain this information during the assessment phase, and it helps
to inform decisions regarding classification and treatment plans.
When the screening results in a “red flag,” staff should seek additional
information, such as an existing treatment plan or information about medications the inmate has been prescribed, from supplemental sources. For example,
the mental health professional conducting the subsequent mental health assessment should review information and reports from other criminal justice
staff, such as the pretrial investigator, the presentence investigator, and county/
municipal detention staff, who have previously had contact with the inmate.
Reports from other criminal justice system personnel such as law enforcement
or jail officials will provide details of mental health and behavioral issues pertinent to the screening and evaluation process of the inmate. Additionally, state
departments of correction may wish to consider gathering supplemental information from the local or county corrections authority. It might be advisable for
states to require county jail officials to inform receiving state correctional authorities if a person has been receiving mental health services. Such information is not considered confidential, and may well prove to be critical for the
health and well-being of inmates with mental illness.
Staff should also obtain assessment and treatment history information from
community mental health treatment providers. In at least some corrections
systems, staff encourage the inmate to sign a release of records form, which
allows correctional staff including clinicians to obtain mental health records
from previous treatment providers in the community. In other cases, staff at
the corrections center request the assistance of community mental health officials in cross-referencing the names of their clientele with the jail population
(see Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility).
The individual charged with conducting the screening is most often the
booking or receiving officer, intake nurse, or intake clinician; in general, any
properly trained individual can administer a straightforward screening instrument and gather necessary information. As state mental health agencies become more involved in assisting, overseeing, and/or providing mental health
services within the criminal justice system, professional credentialing and licensing requirements are more likely to be consistently enforced when addressing the needs of people with mental illness in correctional settings. A low-cost,
high-quality solution involves making arrangements with educational institutions that can place graduate-level clinical psychology or social work student
interns at facilities to conduct screening and assessment of inmates.
The extent to which any of these staff implement the screening procedures
effectively, however, depends in large part on whether they understand their
responsibilities and execute them properly. In short, training on issues such as
the screening protocol, the appropriate use of information gathered, confidentiality issues, and cultural and gender sensitivity is key. (See Policy Statement
30: Training for Corrections Personnel.)

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 133

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

c

Policy Statement 17: Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates

Develop a system of triage to ensure that follow-up responses to
the screening results reflect the immediacy of the inmate’s needs.

An effective screening tool should enable screeners to distinguish between
inmates in need of immediate mental health attention and inmates currently
on medication or in treatment who will require a complete assessment within
24 hours of their screening. When staff members conducting the screenings
determine that inmates are in need of immediate attention, they should ensure
that these inmates are transferred to a specialty facility for 24-hour observation and care or placed on suicide watch until more suitable arrangements can
be made. They should also check whether there is any indication that the newly
admitted inmate is currently taking psychotropic mediation and ensure that he
or she receives it when ready for the next dose.
Inmates who display significant mental health disorders should receive a
professional mental health assessment as soon as possible after admission. The
APA recommends that a brief mental health assessment for individuals who
screen positive for mental illness should be conducted within 72 hours, with a
provision for immediate evaluation in cases of increased urgency.11
These brief assessments may be conducted by qualified health professionals (e.g., general practitioner nurses or physicians) where specialty mental health
staff are not available daily. After this brief assessment, the inmate should be
placed on a medication review protocol and scheduled for a full treatment plan
review within 30 days.

d

Evaluate periodically the effectiveness of the screening instrument
employed, as well as the mental health assessment and mental
health evaluation protocols.

Staff can implement various mechanisms at the facility level to ensure
that the instrument and protocols are successfully identifying inmates who have
significant mental health issues and following up appropriately:
“

“

“

Inter-rater reliability review. Comparison of the outcomes of screenings conducted by different staff.
Feedback from assessment results. Determination of the rates at
which a positive screening successfully identified an inmate with mental health needs and the rates at which a positive screen incorrectly
flagged a mental illness or mental health problem.
Interdisciplinary review. Interdisciplinary communication (i.e.,
among health and custody staff) about mental health screening issues.

Another key element in evaluating the effectiveness of screening and referrals is to determine the extent to which the screening instrument is sensi11. APA, Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons, p. 41.

134 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Cultural Competency

tive to cultural variations and that those who administer the process are sensitive to inherent cultural biases. Inmates with mental illness are disproportionately African American, Hispanic, and Native American. Given the reality, it is
incumbent on those who oversee and carry out the care and supervision of defendants and offenders with mental illness to ensure that the procedures undertaken and the services provided are done so in a nondiscriminatory way,
while at the same time are sensitive about and responsive to cultural and linguistic differences. Similarly, the growing number of women who have a mental illness and who come to the attention of the criminal justice system deserve
gender-specific and gender-competent care and treatment.
No matter how culturally competent or how culturally neutral a screening
instrument may be, it will not substitute or supercede personnel’s abilities when
it comes to asking questions and making observations. It is critical that, in
addition to training around the signs and symptoms of mental illness, specifics
about screening, and preliminary assessment protocols, staff need to be trained
to move toward cultural competency.

e

Conduct a comprehensive mental health evaluation of every inmate
flagged as having significant mental health issues during the professional mental health assessment process.

A comprehensive mental health evaluation should include, at a minimum,
the following:
“
“
“
“
“
“
“
“
“
“
“

mental health history
prior treatment
medication history
relevant psychosocial history (i.e., family, social, legal, relationships)
functional assessment
current situational stressors
mental status examination
current diagnosis
relevant medical diagnoses
current medication
substance abuse status

Early models of cultural competency were developed in the mid1980s at Georgetown University’s
Child Development Center. 12
Cultural competence is something
that must develop concurrently at
policymaking, administrative,
practitioner, and consumer levels.
“The culturally competent system
values diversity, has the capacity
for cultural self-assessment, is
conscious of the dynamics inherent when cultures interact, has
institutionalized cultural knowledge and has developed adaptations to diversity.”13
The language of any good screening instrument should, at least,
be presented at a language comprehension level that enables inmates to understand what is being asked of them. It should
also be available in Spanish and/
or other language(s) prevalent in
the community. In addition, cultural competency should be a part
of the training curriculum for
screeners. (See Policy Statement
43: Cultural Competency.)

The evaluation should include a structured interview with inmates and a
review of any available mental health records and collateral information, including behavioral observations by institutional staff. The evaluation should
result in a diagnosis and a preliminary treatment plan.

12. See: www.georgetown.edu/research/gucdc/nccc/
index.html
13. T. Cross, B. Bazron, K. Dennis, M. Isaacs, “Towards
a Culturally Competent System of Care: a Monograph on

Effective Services for Minority Children who are Severely
Emotionally Disturbed,” Child and Adolescent Service system Program Technical Assistance Center, Georgetown University Child Development Center, March 1989, p. 19.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 135

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and
Classification/Housing Decisions

Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to

18

Programs, and Classification/Housing Decisions
POLICY STATEMENT #18

Use the results of the mental health assessment and evaluation to
develop an individualized treatment, housing, and programming plan,
and ensure that this information follows the inmate whenever he or
she is transferred to another facility.

Correctional administrators should ensure that
the results of the initial receiving mental health
screening—along with subsequent screenings, assessments, and evaluations—inform the decisions
that follow regarding housing, programming, and
treatment. Mental health screeners serve as
gatekeepers who, in turn, must communicate effectively with correctional staff responsible for housing and program decisions.
Once mental health staff have determined the
inmate has a mental illness, several decisions follow. Mental health staff must develop an individualized treatment plan that recognizes the specific
needs of each inmate. They also must work with
correctional staff to determine the housing unit and
programs to which such persons should be assigned.
Information about decisions made at one institution
must be passed along to the staff at the institution
that next receives the inmate.

The first series of recommendations under this
policy statement addresses the use of medications
in correctional settings. The development over the
previous 15 years of new types of psychotropic medications, such as atypical antipsychotics and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), has increased dramatically the prospects of recovery for
people with mental illness.
The prescription of medications, however,
should be only one component—not the central focus—of a treatment or case management plan. Historically, staff at many correctional facilities have
overrelied on the use of psychotropic medications
and, in many cases, sedative-hypnotic medications,
simply to pacify and to control inmates with mental
illness and others believed to be disruptive. This
reveals a common prejudice about inmates with
mental illness: they are noncompliant, difficult to
manage, violent, and otherwise undeserving of clinical attention or services. This is a view current clinical research and practice does not support.

14. In Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97 (1976), the Supreme Court addressed the
medical needs of prisoners in the context of the Eighth Amendment. The court held
that deliberate indifference to serious medical needs is prohibited “whether the indifference is manifested by prison doctors in their response to the prisoner’s needs or
by prison guards in intentionally denying or delaying access to medical care or intentionally interfering with the treatment once prescribed. Regardless of how evidenced,

deliberate indifference to a prisoner’s serious illness or injury states a [claim under
the Constitution.] Id. at 104-105.” A prisoner must provide evidence of “acts or omissions sufficiently harmful” to show deliberate indifference in order to bring an Eighth
Amendment claim.

136 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Since Estelle, the Supreme Court has refined the “deliberate indifference” standard
only once. In 1994 the Court said that deliberate indifference “[lies] somewhere be-

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Include the most appropriate psychotherapeutic medications in
prison and county correctional institution formularies.

A growing body of clinical evidence shows the benefits of widespread access to the newer generation of medications (see Policy Statement 35: EvidenceBased Practices). Fewer people taking these medications require hospitalization or rehospitalization, yielding substantial cost savings. More people taking
them are able to enter the workforce and reduce their dependency on a wide
array of social services. As the benefits of the newer medications have become
more widely recognized the demand has increased, allaying concerns about
higher costs.
Newer medications, which are considerably more expensive than older
medications, are not used as frequently in prisons and in jails as they are in the
general community. Using these newer medications in many instances, however, is in fact cost-effective; their ability to increase the likelihood that the
inmate will adhere to his treatment plan may offset, at least in the long term,
the difference in cost between the two generations of medications.
Correctional officials usually require that licensed staff in the jail or prison
pharmacy fill prescriptions, including those for psychotropic medications, in
accordance with a departmentally prescribed formulary. Policies should define
procedures that ensure a balance between the higher cost and the more desirable results, including the lesser side effects of many of these new medications.
At a minimum, pharmacies should maintain adequate stocks of the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medications. These should not be limited to the
least expensive and generic brands. Sufficient supplies of newer medications
that have been prescribed by the psychiatrist for individual patients should
also be kept on hand.
Furthermore, regardless of whether a particular medication is on the jail
or prison formulary, there should be provision for obtaining any medication
that a physician deems appropriate to prescribe. If the medication is not on the
formulary, the physician should be able to order it as a special request and
receive it in a timely manner.14

tween the poles of negligence at one end and purpose or
knowledge at the other”(Farmer v. Brennan, 511 U.S. 825,
1994). The Court affirmed an “adequacy” standard stating
that “prison officials must ensure that inmates receive
adequate food, clothing, shelter and medical care . . .” (id.
at 833), but went on to emphasize that “deliberate indifference” requires a culpable state of mind. Federal District

Courts (the trial court in the federal system) may interpret
“adequate” with wide discretion. On appeal to the Federal
Circuit Courts—the layer of the judiciary just below the
U.S. Supreme Court—this has led to vastly varying law,
especially in regards to the treatment of HIV. See APA, Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons, p. 2

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 137

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

b

Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and
Classification/Housing Decisions

Develop and adopt jointly standardized clinical decision protocols
(i.e., algorithms) that are based upon research conducted on a national level.

In order to ensure consistency in the application of psychotropic medications, and to manage pharmacy costs, state correctional agency officials should
work with leaders in the mental health system to develop and adopt jointly
standardized clinical decision protocols (i.e., algorithms) that are based upon
research conducted on a national level.
Example: National Formulary, Federal Bureau of Prisons

In an effort to deliver consistent and cost-effective medical care, the Pharmacy and
Therapeutics Committee of the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) established the
National Formulary for the Bureau of Prisons. The committee’s objectives are to ensure that inmate medical care will be delivered consistently and cost-effectively as a
result of the formulary’s implementation.
Implementation of the formulary includes review of evidence-based scientific literature for new and existing drugs and to determine their appropriate role in the Bureau’s
pharmacotherapeutic armamentarium. It is the committee’s role, through the formulary, to stay current with BOP clinical treatment guidelines for medical and mental
health conditions, as well as reflect the generally accepted professional practices of
the medical community at large.
The committee meets and conducts reviews annually and is composed of pharmacists and clinicians from the bureau and other institutions and includes the chief
physician and chief psychiatrist; it is chaired by the chief pharmacist. Responsibilities include reviewing the formulary and updating it to be in line with evidence-based
medicine; new drugs are reviewed by conducting literature searches and cost/benefit
analyses to determine whether the side effect of a given drug is worth the benefit of
administering it.

Example: University of Texas Medical Branch, Texas Department of
Criminal Justice

Beginning in 1995, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) developed policy
and guidelines for facility-level providers to obtain nonformulary drugs for offenders
in the custody of the Texas Department of Corrections. TDCJ has incorporated the
procedure for obtaining nonformulary drugs for inmates as part of the Pharmacy
Policy and Procedure Manual. The prescribing physician must provide documentation
in the offender’s health record about what role the desired drug will have in the
offender’s treatment plan (e.g., diagnosis, special considerations) and also provide
documentation confirming that no acceptable substitute is available on the formulary.
Procedures and a flowchart have been developed to show the protocols for what happens when such a request is made. Requests for nonformulary medication are made to
the clinical pharmacist assigned, who, in turn, evaluates the request by a review of
information provided by the prescribing physician/psychiatrist and/or a review of
other relevant information including the target disease, previous medications used for
the indication, dosages, compliance allergies, diagnostic procedure, TDCJ Disease
Management guidelines, national standards and guidelines, and applicable scientific
literature.

138 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has evaluated the program through continued monitoring of nonformulary requests and denials. The initiative is funded through
a contract with the University of Texas Medical Branch/Correctional Managed Care to
provide mental health services for offenders in the TDCJ through the Correctional
Managed Care Advisory Committee.

Much progress has been made in the area of clinical informatics as a result
of managed care initiatives that have moved into pharmacy services.
Example: The Texas Medication Algorithm Project, Texas Department of
Mental Health and Mental Retardation

The Texas Medical Algorithm Project (TMAP) is a public and academic collaborative
effort headed by the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation.
TMAP is designed to improve the quality of care and achieve the best possible patient
outcome by establishing a treatment philosophy for medication management. TMAP
developed and instituted a set of algorithms to illustrate the order and method in
which to use various psychotropic medications. The TMAP algorithms have been
adopted by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for use in the state’s prisons.
The ultimate goal of TMAP is to optimize patient outcomes with the underlying assumption that resources will be most optimally utilized. It is intended to develop and
continuously update treatment algorithms and to train systems to apply these methods to minimize emotional, physical, and financial burdens of mental disorders for
clients, families, and health care systems.
TMAP consists of four phases. During Phase 1, guidelines were developed through
scientific evidence and expert clinical consensus, resulting in the development of
algorithms for use of various psychotropic medications for three major psychiatric
disorders: schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder. Phase 2
was the feasibility trial of the project and evaluated the suitability, applicability, and
costs of the algorithms. The third phase was a comparison of the clinical outcomes
and economic costs of using these medication guidelines vs. traditional treatment/
medication methods. The fourth and final phase is the implementation of TMAP
throughout clinics and hospitals of the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation and is known as the Texas Implementation of Medication Algorithms
(TIMA). Collaboration for this project included public sector and academic partners,
15
parent and family representatives, and mental health advocacy groups.

In order to ensure quality and objectivity, correctional agencies should enlist the services of a licensed pharmacist to review policies and procedures, and
to assist in a review of the use of medications in the facilities. For example,
there may be some instances when physicians prescribe the newer, more expensive medications even though the older medications may achieve the same
desired clinical outcome. If replacement medications are considered, prescribing physicians should keep in mind the potential impact of side effects associated with switching medications. Checks and balances must be established
and enforced to ensure that physicians are not overprescribing medications
that yield little additional salutary effect.

15. Graphic presentations of algorithms and explanatory
physicians’ manuals are available on the TMAP Web site:
www.mhmr.state.tx.us/centraloffice/medicaldirector/
TMAPtoc.html.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 139

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

c

Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and
Classification/Housing Decisions

Require, at a minimum, that (1) mental health-specific case management services and (2) effective, research-based behavioral and
counseling interventions accompany the use of medication.

To ensure that mental health and correctional facilities staff members do
not become overly dependent on medications alone to modify or to control inmate behavior, mental health services should include an array of interventions
designed to meet the unique needs of inmates with mental illness. When interdisciplinary teams work together to develop a treatment plan, the services delivered are more likely to be balanced and tailored to the specific needs of the
inmate
Interventions that have proven to be effective in a correctional setting include the following:
“

cognitive-behavioral therapy, particularly those interventions that improve basic problem-solving skills and reduce maladaptive (criminal)
thinking

“

individual and group therapy that is skill acquisition oriented

“

independent living-skills training

“

medication self-management

“

relapse prevention

“

physical exercise programs
Example: Behavior Modification Treatment Level System, West Virginia
Division of Corrections

The West Virginia Division of Corrections has implemented a Behavior Modification
Treatment Level System at the Mount Olive Correctional Complex. Mental health staff
at the facility put this system in place to facilitate effective inmate management and to
provide an incentive for inmates placed in the Mental Health Unit (MHU) to achieve an
appropriate functioning level.
Programming is offered at various levels for some inmates who used to be locked
down in their cells for 23 hours a day. Since the program has started there has been
only one four-point restraint utilization, no cell extractions, and inmates that used to
be housed in single cells are now stabilized and socialized to be double bunked. To
increase success, the warden was asked to forgo disciplinary infractions for inmates
receiving mental health treatment on the unit. This approach has empowered mental
health staff to implement programming without having punitive restrictions. Critical
to this approach is the ability to select staff who are philosophically aligned with a
habilitation model as opposed to a punitive model.

At most institutions, correctional staff members provide general case management services. When inmates have a mental illness, however, they should
be assigned to case managers specially trained to understand the distinct service needs of this population.

140 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"Effective treatment makes
our prisons safer and
easier to manage. Prison
wardens are keenly aware
that inmates exhibiting
symptoms of mental illness can cause unrest and
tension in the general
population. It is obvious
that a large proportion of
those inmates have better
control over their actions
when they receive the appropriate treatment for
their illness."
REGINALD A.
WILKINSON
Director, Ohio
Department of
Rehabilitation and
Correction
Source: U.S. House Committee

on the Judiciary, The Impact of
the Mentally Ill on the Criminal
Justice System, September 21,
2001

Integration of
Services

d

Develop and provide programs for inmates with
co-occurring disorders.

All programs for inmates with mental illness should also address inmates
with co-occurring substance abuse disorders. Over the past decade, virtually
every state department of corrections has implemented residential substance
abuse treatment programs within their prisons. Some of these programs specialize in treating the dually diagnosed—those with co-occurring substance abuse
and mental health problems. These programs generally serve inmates whose
primary problem is substance abuse, and whose mental health problems tend
to be less severe but there are clearly examples of offenders with co-occurring
disorders whose mental illness is the primary concern. Some of these residential programs are specifically designed for women—a large percentage of whom
are dually diagnosed—with depression as the primary psychiatric diagnosis.16
Key program components for co-occurring disorders include the following:
an extended assessment period; orientation/motivational activities;
psychoeducational groups; cognitive-behavioral interventions, such as restructuring of “criminal thinking errors”; self-help groups; medication monitoring;
relapse prevention; and transition into institution or community-based aftercare facilities. Many programs use therapeutic community approaches that
are modified to provide greater individual counseling and support, less confrontation, smaller staff caseloads, and cross-training of staff.17 (See Policy
Statement 37: Co-Occurring Disorders.)

At the Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC), substance abuse
and mental health services are
administratively and functionally
integrated. This allows for fast
and efficient communication between planners and policymakers
at the agency level, as well as
treatment supervisors and treatment providers at the facility
level. Each year, the Oregon DOC
brings together its substance
abuse and mental health planners
and providers for a two-day “integration seminar,” where matters
of mutual concern are considered
and discussed. Last year, the
seminar focused on relapse prevention.

Example: Co-occurring Disorder Programs, Columbia River Correctional
Institution (OR)

In 1998, the Oregon DOC combined state and federal grant resources to create a
system of four co-occurring disorder programs at a single institution (the Columbia
River Correctional Institution). Two of these programs are for men, and two for
women. One program for each gender is targeted at inmates whose problems are more
heavily weighted toward addiction and criminality, but who also have some mental
health problems (the Turning Point programs). Another two programs (again, one for
each gender) are designed to address the needs of offenders with serious and significant mental health problems who also have problems with addiction. Mental health
and substance abuse treatment in all four programs is provided in an integrated
manner, with much cross-pollination of ideas and information among supervisors and
staff of all four.

16. GAINS Center, Women’s Program Compendium,
Delmar, NY, Policy Research Associates, Inc., 1997; L.A.
Teplin, K. M. Abram, and G.M. McClelland, “Prevalence of
Psychiatric Disorders Among Incarcerated Women,” Archives of General Psychiatry 53, 1996, pp. 505-12.

17. John F. Edens, Roger H. Peters, and Holly A. Hills,
“Treating Prison Inmates with Co-occurring disorders: An
Integrative Review of Existing Programs,” Behavioral Sciences and the Law 15, 1997, pp. 439-57.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 141

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

e

Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and
Classification/Housing Decisions

Facilitate access to professional psychiatric services by using
telepsychiatry in systems where inmates are distributed across a
large geographical area or in locations where there is a shortage
of psychiatric service providers.

Qualified, licensed mental health staff can be hard to come by in jails and
prisons located in remote, rural areas. As a result, some jurisdictions, including some in Texas, have resorted to electronic communications as a means of
providing professional, clinical services to such institutions. (See Policy Statement Section 41: Workforce.)
Example: Telemedicine, Texas Department of Criminal Justice

Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) is responsible for providing
medical care in the western portion of Texas to inmates in the Texas Department of
Criminal Justice and to juveniles in five Texas Youth Commission facilities. In 1994,
TTUHSC began delivering health services to inmates via telecommunications technology. As of 2002, TTUHSC conducts approximately 2,000 prison telemedicine consultations a year for the 33,000 inmates that are housed in the 26 prison units for which
TTUHSC is under contract. Approximately one-third of all telemedicine consultations
are in telepsychiatry and telepsychology. This expansion has significantly reduced
the amount of time clinicians spend driving to distant prison sites.

Psychotropic medications should be prescribed by, or in consultation with,
a psychiatrist or other licensed mental health professional having training in
psychotropic medications and authority to prescribe them as determined by the
state. Given the shortage of psychiatrists, doctors who provide general health
care, but who are not credentialed in psychiatry, are allowed to prescribe psychotropic medications for inmates with serious mental illness. It is essential
that physicians who specialize in psychiatric medicine oversee mental health
treatment, in addition to psychotropic medication prescription, administration,
and monitoring.

f

Review mental health services provided to ensure that they are
evidenced-based.

Like their counterparts in the community, mental health professionals
working in correctional settings have access to a growing body of research documenting the effectiveness of certain interventions and the promise of others.
Similarly, researchers have demonstrated that various service models have little
or no impact on the behavior or health of a person with mental illness. To
ensure provision of the most effective possible services to people with mental
illnesses in prisons and jails, correctional mental health officials should stay
abreast of the work of research efforts on evidence-based practices such as those
conducted at the New Hampshire Dartmouth Psychiatric Research Center and
at the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors

142 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

(NASMHPD) Research Institute.18 Researchers affiliated with these organizations have identified services that have been shown in a variety of settings to
provide treatments and supports that will enhance the ability of a person with
mental illness to live successfully in the community. (See Policy Statement 35:
Evidence-Based Practices.)

g

Ensure the cultural competency of all programs for inmates with
mental illness.

As stated earlier in this chapter, the majority of people incarcerated in the
United States are African American or Latino. In some states, people of color
make up nearly 80 percent of the prison population. Cultural competency has
generally been shown to improve client receptiveness to services and counselor
effectiveness (see Policy Statement 40: Cultural Competency). Mental health
services in correctional settings should recognize the effects of culture on all
aspects of mental illness and, in order to treat inmates effectively, should organize and design their approaches accordingly. In particular, clinicians and other
correctional staff who are in routine contact with inmates with mental illness
should receive training to enhance their “cultural competency” and their ability
to recognize and respond to the needs of people from different cultural backgrounds who come under their care or control.

h

Provide mental health treatment and services that are
gender-specific.

Male and female inmates may have similar mental illnesses and custody
levels, but their treatment plans, housing situations, and programming needs
will be distinct. For example, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has found that
histories of trauma and abuse are particularly high among females in prison
and jail: more than 78 percent of female state prison inmates and more than 72
percent of the female population in jail reported such histories.19
In response, a growing number of jurisdictions have instituted programs
intended to identify women who are victims of past abuse and to offer interventions that meet their specific needs. These programs provide training that helps
correctional administrators and officers to understand the high prevalence of
trauma history among their inmates as well as the relationship between abuse,
substance abuse, mental illness, and criminal behavior. The programs also
include interventions that help inmates with histories of abuse to better understand their own situations, often through group meetings.
18. Available at: www.dartmouth.edu/dms/psychrc;
www.nasmhpd.org
19. Ditton, Mental Health and Treatment, p. 6. Although
the prevalence of histories of abuse is much higher among
females than males, male inmates with mental illness were
also significantly more likely than inmates without mental

illness to report a history of abuse. More than 32 percent
of male state prison inmates and more than 30 percent of
male jail inmates reported such histories, as compared
with 13 percent and 10 percent, respectively, of male inmates without mental illness.
20. Travis et al., From Prison to Home, p.14
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 143

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and
Classification/Housing Decisions

Example: The TAMAR Project, Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration,
Division of Special Populations

The TAMAR (Trauma, Addictions, Mental health, And Recovery) Project was initially
piloted in one rural and two suburban counties in Maryland and has now spread to a
number of counties in the state. Its goal is to provide integrated services for women
who typically have interrelated trauma, substance abuse, and mental illness issues.
Meeting in groups, the women are encouraged to share their stories with one another
and to engage in therapeutic activities such as art therapy and journal writing. Once
released from jail, women in TAMAR are able to continue to meet in groups in the
community that provide continuing support.

i

Recognize the distinct programming needs of special populations
with mental illness, such as the elderly, the developmentally disabled, those with chronic medical problems, substance abusers,
and sex offenders.
Prisons have increasing numbers of inmates with mental illness who also

are elderly, developmentally disabled, or sex offenders. The clinical needs, treatment approaches, strengths and deficits, and general goals of programs for inmates in these groups differ significantly. Correctional administrators should
ensure that mental health programs and services provided to these special populations are distinct from programs and services provided to other inmates with
mental illness
Some program approaches that serve sex offenders and those with developmental disabilities may provide useful guidance for approaches for offenders
with co-occurring disorders.
Example: Program for Inmates with Developmental Disabilities, Texas
Department of Criminal Justice

This program was established to minimize the negative effects of incarceration on
offenders who have developmental disabilities and to maximize the likelihood of their
successful reintegration into the community. An Interdisciplinary Team (IDT) includes
a physician or registered nurse, licensed or certified psychologist, social caseworker,
vocational supervisor, social work supervisor, and rehabilitation aide. Occupational
therapists and speech pathologists are included as necessary. The IDT performs a
needs assessment to determine what services are best suited to meet the needs of the
individual. A vocational evaluation is completed, which takes into account the inmate’s
assets and limitations. Offenders with developmental disabilities are housed in the
least restrictive environment appropriate to their habilitation, treatment, and safety
and security needs. Available services include: medical care; psychiatric services;
educational programming; occupational therapy; substance abuse treatment; treatment planning and monitoring; and continuity of care (transitional planning).

Example: ASEND Program, Utah Department of Correction

Since 1986, the Utah Department of Corrections has been operating the Advantage
Program at the Utah State Prison to address the needs of offenders with an IQ below

144 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

70. In 1999, space was designated at the prison and new policies and procedures were
implemented for an expanded program, called ASEND, operating in a segregated
living unit.
The ASEND Program provides programming for those inmates lacking the skills and
knowledge to meet the standards of self-sufficiency and acceptable social responsibilities, not only in society but also within this institutional environment. The goal of
the ASEND Program is to assist inmates to live successfully in the prison population
and to prepare for their eventual release to the community.
The program comprises the following components: 1) a written individual habilitative
plan; 2) an education program component; 3) a cognitive programming component; 4)
an employment job readiness component; 5) modified behavior privilege matrix; 6)
additional services coordination for inmates who have a mental illness, or who have
sexual or drug abuse histories; 7) recreation and physical activities; 8) aftercare services; and 9) appropriate training and habilitative specialist status for block officers.

Example: Sexual Offender Accountability and Responsibility (SOAR)
Program, North Carolina Department of Corrections

SOAR is a voluntary day treatment program for incarcerated sexual offenders referred
by psychological staff from state prisons. Two program sessions are held each year,
with a total of 72 offenders participating. Inmates are housed in a segregated unit
while participating. Group therapy conducted by a program staff psychologist is the
primary mode of treatment. The program, which has been in existence since 1991, is
relatively inexpensive to operate ($7.16 per day per inmate) and has been demonstrated to be reasonably effective. The latest outcome study reported that by April
2000, 302 of a total of 501 participants who had completed the program had been
released to the community. Of these 302 men, only 7, or 2.3 percent, had been
returned to prison for a new sexual offense charge. This compares very favorably with
the return rate of general population inmates in North Carolina. According to a 1996
study, 47 percent of all inmates leaving North Carolina prisons are reconvicted within
three years. A youth SOAR program designed to serve offenders between the ages of
16 and 21 is planned.

Example: Sexual Offender Residential Treatment (SORT) Program,
Virginia Department of Corrections

SORT provides comprehensive assessment and treatment services for inmates who
are a moderate to high risk for reoffense. The program operates in five phases: orientation; assessment; treatment readiness; treatment; and release planning. The program begins with the development of an individualized treatment plan, then progresses
through the participation by offenders in various psychoeducational groups, and, finally, in a program of treatment having the Trans-theoretical Model and Cognitive
Behavioral Techniques as its basis. The release planning phase, which includes the
participation of the offender’s community supervision officer and family members,
includes an evaluation of future needs and the identification of programs and providers to address such needs.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 145

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

j

Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and
Classification/Housing Decisions

Develop graduated housing options for inmates with mental illness
that ensure the safety of staff and inmates and prepare inmates,
when appropriate, for transition from specialized housing to general population units.

Beyond general population beds, correctional administrators usually have
few housing options, especially in overcrowded facilities, for inmates with mental illness. In those units, staff members generally are not trained adequately
to address these inmates’ needs. Inmates suffering from severe mental illness
who are housed in general population, especially when their illness is undiagnosed or untreated, often decompensate more quickly than they would in housing designed and operated for inmates with mental illness. When inmates with
mental illness in general housing decompensate they are likely to incur disciplinary infractions, which in turn prompts their reassignment to segregation
cells, where their mental health is likely to deteriorate still further and more
rapidly.
Centralized and noncentralized approaches to housing inmates with mental illness each have benefits and drawbacks. Generally, it is more cost-efficient to hold people with significant problems in specialized units at a central
facility. On the other hand, decentralizing services provides greater administrative flexibility. Furthermore, “mainstreaming” inmates who can safely be
housed in the general population reduces the stigma associated with mental
illness.
An ideal approach to this issue is to have both options available. Depending upon the size of the system and facilities, correctional administrators should
provide separate residential services to inmates with serious mental illness, as
well as a range of counseling activities in day and outpatient levels of care.
Several states have developed multilevel housing systems for inmates with serious mental illness. These include maximum-security medical units, step-down,
post-acute housing, and transitional housing units.
In order to make the most appropriate housing assignment for an inmate
with mental illness, staff should first take into account the medical requirements of the inmate, including concurrent nonpsychiatric conditions (e.g., HIV,
TB, etc.). For example, inmates whose medical needs are within reasonable
limits, are medication compliant, and are responsive to supervision could likely
be assigned appropriately to general population units. Cross-discipline participation on panels and committees that make decisions regarding the handling of
inmates with mental illness should be a standard practice.
Correctional staff should reevaluate the housing assignments of inmates
with mental illness routinely to ensure the assignment is properly serving their
changing needs. Inmates assigned to a specific unit because of their mental
illness should be evaluated regularly for changes in their mental health needs.

146 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

k

Provide disciplinary hearing officers with the proper orientation
and training to make informed decisions about offenders with
mental illness.

Custody and program staff, whether they are assigned to special housing
units or to general population, should receive training in basic mental health
issues. In order to have an impact on problem inmates with mental illness
receiving disciplinary actions due to their illness, it is recommended that hearing officers, and others involved in the work of disciplinary committees, also
receive this training. These officers should have discretion to consider the presence of mental illness as a mitigating factor in imposing sanctions (see Policy
Statement 30: Training for Corrections Personnel).

l

Ensure continuity of services when inmates are transferred to a
different facility.

When inmates are transferred to a new institution, it is critical that information regarding their mental illness and treatment history accompany them.
When this information does not follow the transferred inmate, the receiving
facility must undertake the inefficient and expensive step of conducting another evaluation.
Service delivery between the two institutions should also be seamless.
Without continuity of care, an inmate’s condition can worsen.
Employing one of three mechanisms will enable corrections administrators to ensure that an inmate’s mental health information will be forwarded to
a receiving institution whenever he or she is transferred:
“

Establish a central, computerized tracking system, which alerts the mental health case manager at the receiving institution that an inmate with
mental health needs will be arriving at the facility; or

“

Send with the inmate a summary form that alerts the mental health
case manager at the receiving institution. When mental health information is not maintained in a system-wide database, staff will need to
include in this form a clinical summary of assessment results and a
brief description of treatment and services received at the previous institution; or

“

In jurisdictions that do not have a central computerized tracking system, the mental health record should accompany the inmates at the
time of their transfer.
Example: Wisconsin’s Health Transfer Summary

Wisconsin’s Health Transfer Summary, a form and protocol used to ensure continuity
of care when inmates are transferred from one correctional facility to another, pertains
to transfers between county jails, between state prisons, and between county jails and
state prisons. In particular, the summary provides necessary information to health
care providers and custodial staff at correctional facilities to ensure their proper

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 147

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and
Classification/Housing Decisions

care—such as current health and mental health status; medications in use; and
treatments—while maintaining the confidentiality of inmate health care information
in compliance with state law. At the time of a transfer, the Health Transfer Summary
is prepared by a facility health care professional and delivered along with the inmate
by the transportation officer assigned to transport the inmate to the receiving facility.
If the transfer is completed at a time when the health care professional is not available, the form is prepared and dispatched with alternative means within 24 hours.
Once received, a health care professional at the receiving facility logs in the summary,
notifies the sending facility that it has been received, and makes follow-up assessments, investigations, and requests for information concerning the inmate’s health
care status or condition as required. The summary is maintained in the inmate’s
medical files as a confidential record following guidelines set forth in Wisconsin law.
According to the statute, inmate consent for the transfer of his or her health care
information between correctional facilities is not required. The statute also authorizes
the sharing of the inmate’s complete health record, but specifically excludes the mental health information from being included when that complete record is shared. The
exclusion can be waived only with the inmate’s consent.

Confidentiality regulations designed to protect the privacy and rights of
those receiving treatment for mental illness and substance abuse are often misinterpreted, and, in some cases, such regulations unnecessarily impede the flow
of information needed to ensure the quality and continuity of care for offenders
who are transferred between facilities. Mechanisms can be used that enable
correctional agencies to share important and relevant information while maintaining an appropriate level of confidentiality for the inmate. Information sharing should be understood here as sharing between clinical treating providers at
two different sites, and not as sharing with administrative or other correctional
staff. Clinical files (whatever form they take) should be sealed and opened only
by qualified personnel who have appropriate training in confidentiality issues.
Inmates who receive services for their mental illness should be encouraged to
provide written consent in order for agencies to release treatment records to
another program. Even when a statute allows sharing without consent, it is
still a good idea to obtain it. (See Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information.)
It is particularly important to facilitate the transfer of records from jails
and other facilities that are not operated by the state correctional agency. Similarly, state corrections directors should also consider developing memoranda of
agreement between state agencies, such as the agency for mental health services, to ensure the transfer of patient records when an individual who is being
served in a state institution is transferred to a correctional facility.
Corrections administrators and their counsel often have a difficult task in
determining how federal and state statutes regarding the confidentiality of inmate mental health information applies to inmates. State statues—or administrative regulations—should be established to clarify how the information of
this distinct population can be used.

148 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

In addition, states should consider establishing statutes or administrative
regulations that require the transfer of inmate mental health records between
facilities under the purview of the state correctional agency. In Arizona, a statute requires transfer of records either prior to or at the time of the transfer; it
also authorizes the records to be transferred between county and state facilities.
Example: Duty to Deliver Medical Records, Arizona State Law

Arizona state law requires the transfer of a prisoner’s “medical record file, including
the prisoner’s mental health file or a standardized medical record.” The file must be
transferred prior to or at the same time as transfer of the prisoner. This requirement
applies to all transfers between jail and state department of correction facilities.

Louisiana takes this process a step further, allowing the correctional agency
to obtain information from other state agencies, as necessary, while ensuring
reasonable confidentiality protection.
Example: Access to Records, Louisiana State Law

Louisiana state statute gives the department of corrections access to “information
and records under the control of any state or local agency which are reasonably related
to the rehabilitation of the individual.” Access to such information may be obtained
“during the course of any investigation which the department of corrections is authorized by law to conduct or any investigation necessary to the rehabilitation of persons
in the custody of the department of corrections.” The statute also requires that all
information obtained under this provision “be held as confidential and not be disclosed directly or indirectly to anyone except” when required by statute.

These examples illustrate how a state essentially can define the department, and/or the state as a whole, as a unified system of care, thus enabling
mental health information to be freely passed between facilities and departments as though they were part of a provider enterprise, as occurs in community health systems. Confidentiality assurances can be established simply
through policies and procedures that are consistent with statutes.
In cases where statutes do not provide for transfers across agencies, one
solution would be for the agencies to enter into memoranda of agreement that
include Qualified Services Agreements (QSA). QSA’s are agreements between
providers that allow for the release of confidential information between the
agencies, while transferring responsibility for adherence to federal and state
confidentiality regulations.

m

Require appropriate staff to review mental health information received with the transferred inmate and to respond accordingly.

Departmental policies and procedures should define what specific information is required at intake, who is responsible for reviewing and following up
on obtaining complete mental health records, and what immediate services are
to be provided. Time frames for conducting clinical review and approval of

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 149

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 18: Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment to Programs, and
Classification/Housing Decisions

Health Insurance
Portability and
Accessibility Act
(HIPAA)

medications should be specified throughout the intake process. Lastly, the procedures should specify a protocol for interinstitutional communication when
proper documentation does not accompany the inmate at the time of intake.
Example: Statewide Weekly Mental Health Staff Teleconference, Arizona
Department of Corrections

By administrative order, the facility health services administrators and other relevant
mental health professionals at the Department of Corrections’ (DOC) Alhambra Behavioral Health Treatment Facility, and all other correctional complexes and facilities
teleconference every week to discuss the mental health treatment needs and issues of
inmates being referred to or from the Alhambra complex and other Arizona DOC
facilities and provide a forum for peer consultation on difficult cases.

n

Identify appropriate technology and protocols for the development
of an electronic patient records system.

Several jurisdictions have developed electronic data systems to improve
records management and facilitate the instant flow of clinical records. To ensure a successful records transfer, electronic communication should be used in
conjunction with the personal transfer of information between clinicians at the
institutions. Officials should be mindful that most confidentiality regulations
apply equally to paper and electronic records (HIPAA regulations specifically
cover electronic records), and thus develop their electronic information protocols accordingly.
Example: Mental Health Record and Referral/Evaluation Systems,
Michigan Department of Corrections

The Health Management Information System (HMIS) is a computer-based management system, which contains health care data for persons incarcerated in Michigan
correctional institutions. Two mental health-related components of HMIS are the mental
health record system and the referral/evaluation system. Staff from DOC Psychological Services and DCH Corrections Mental Health Program use these components. The
Mental Health Record system enables mental health care services providers to systematically identify and track prisoners with mental illness at different levels and
units within the correctional system. The referral and evaluation system ensures the
identification and tracking of prisoner referrals for evaluations as well as the evaluation outcomes.

Example: Process of Transmitting Mental Health Treatment Histories of
Inmates When Transferred to Other Facilities, New Jersey Department of
Corrections

The New Jersey Department of Corrections uses an electronic medical record system
that allows any professional health care practitioner within the Department to view any
inmate’s health record at any time. When an inmate is transferred from one facility to
another, mental health professionals send an e-mail stating that the inmate has been
transferred and the health record can be immediately accessed. Case conferences
occur on the more difficult management cases.

150 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accessibility Act
(HIPAA) regulations were promulgated in final form in March 2002
and are likely to have an impact
on the way mental health information will be handled in the future. Not only are these regulations extremely complex, but legal
experts disagree on their ramifications for prison and jail populations. Correctional administrators and correctional health
officials should work with their
legal counsel to familiarize themselves with these regulations and
to consider their implications for
their facilities.

Example: Interagency Case Conferencing, New Jersey Department of
Corrections

When the New Jersey Department of Corrections participates in interagency transfers
(e.g., between correctional and mental health agencies), it often organizes case conferences, in conjunction with the electronic transfer of data between the agencies, to
enable clinicians from both sending and receiving institutions to meet to discuss and
develop individual treatment plans.

State mental health agencies recognize the benefits to be gained from the
development of an integrated and automated patient records systems that is
operated system wide. The establishment of such a system is expensive, however, and the work on such systems in most states is far from complete. Indeed,
implementation of electronic patient record systems is inconsistent across local
agencies, making it impossible for state mental health authorities to gather
complete information or to realize the gains that could be reaped from a statewide system. Additionally, seemingly simple problems such as the incorrect
spelling of a patient’s name or an inaccurate social security number can create
significant headaches for staff. In some states, efforts are under way to include
state correctional agencies in the development of electronic patient/inmate record
systems.

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Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 19: Subsequent Referral for Screening and Mental Health
Evaluations

Subsequent Referral for Screening and

19

Mental Health Evaluations
POLICY STATEMENT #19

Identify individuals who—despite not raising any flags during the
screening and assessment process—show symptoms of mental illness after their intake into the facility, and ensure that appropriate
action is taken.

Even when staff adhere to the most effective
screening and assessment protocols, they may yet
overlook a small proportion of inmates with mental
illness that enter the facility. Some inmates, concerned about the stigma associated with mental illness, may conceal symptoms of their disease. In
addition, inmates may not present symptoms of
mental illness until they have been incarcerated for
some time. In other cases, an inmate’s mental status can change dramatically during the course of
incarceration. The prison experience itself, and the
inevitable exposure to intimidation, isolation, separation from family, violence, and sometimes victimization can precipitate serious depression or suicidal
thoughts.

Furthermore, some inmates’ symptoms may
reappear as a result of change in medication, discontinuation of a prescription, or noncompliance
with the treatment plan. In jails, offenders who are
admitted directly from the streets are often under
the influence of alcohol and/or other drugs. Once
they are detoxified, mental illness symptoms can
appear—sometimes several days later.
While it would be valuable to conduct periodic
mental health screenings on all general population
inmates, this is costly and rarely done in most correctional facilities. Nevertheless, there are several
measures correctional administrators and mental
health staff can implement, at relatively little cost,
to identify these cases that may initially fall through
the cracks.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Reassesses periodically the mental health status of inmates who
are at the highest risk of showing signs of mental illness.

Correctional mental health staff should incorporate regular, informal mental
health screening into existing practices without burdening the service delivery
system. Corrections administrators should also consider establishing a system

152 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

to code the mental health status (and risk of exhibiting signs of mental illness)
of all inmates.
Example: Virginia Department of Corrections

Since 1992, all inmates in the Virginia correctional system are periodically assessed
and a determination is made as to their mental health status and mental health needs.
The determination is alphanumerically coded and sorted by the least to the greatest
need for mental health services. The code is reviewed and, if necessary, updated
annually. The code is used for programmatic and institutional assignments, as well as
for release planning and community supervision.

Reassessing the mental health status of inmates enables corrections officials to maintain accurate, current data regarding the demand for services within
the prison system, and it facilitates a projection of the need for communitybased mental health services for inmates approaching their release date.

b

Conduct brief mental health assessments upon request of an inmate or by referral from any staff person.

Prisons and jails should have effective mechanisms to permit and encourage inmates and detainees to self-refer for a confidential mental health assessment. Self-referral forms provided to inmates should be culturally sensitive
and, given the generally low reading level of inmate populations, easily understandable. Institutional health staff might also consider instituting clinical
rounds at intake facilities.
Example: Referral for Mental Health Services, Albany County (NY)
Correctional Facility

The Albany County Correctional Facility utilizes a mechanism whereby facility staff,
correctional officers, medical staff, inmate service unit staff, and the inmates themselves are able to put in requests for mental health contact. All written requests are
followed up, and any inmate referred is seen face to face by a mental health staff
member.

c

Minimize the stigma that staff and inmates may harbor regarding
mental illness.

Over the previous two decades, many corrections systems have successfully educated staff about HIV and AIDS, about how the virus is transmitted
and how it is treated. Correctional systems should undertake a similar public
health education initiative regarding mental illness. (See Policy Statement 30:
Training for Corrections Personnel; also Policy Statement 32: Educating the
Community and Building Community Awareness and Policy Statement 43:
Advocacy, for more on stigma.)

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 153

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

20

Policy Statement 20: Release Decision

Release Decision
POLICY STATEMENT #20

Ensure that clinical expertise and familiarity with community-based
mental health resources inform release decisions and determination
of conditions of release.

Inmates typically are released from prison
through one of the three following ways:
“

statutorily mandated release to supervision;

“

discretionary parole; or

“

mandatory release at the completion of a
sentence without supervision.

Over the past two decades, numerous state legislatures have limited the discretion available to
parole boards, or have eliminated discretionary parole altogether (see sidebar on following page).20 A
collateral consequence of limiting this discretion has
been to reduce the opportunity to tailor release conditions for inmates who have a mental illness. In
those states where parole boards still have some
discretion, parole decision makers may be reluctant
to exercise it when the potentially eligible inmate
has a mental illness. Parole board members’ lack of
confidence in community-based mental health services also contributes to their reluctance to release
from prison a person with mental illness. In the
face of incomplete information, inadequate assessments, lack of confidence in community resources
for this population, misconceptions about mental ill-

21. From unpublished description of Forensic Community Re-Entry and Rehabilitation for Female Prison Inmates with Mental Illness, Mental Retardation, and Co-occurring Disorders program, courtesy of Angela Sager, grants manager, May 12, 2002.

154 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

ness, or fear of a negative public response, parole
board members may choose not to release the inmate, thereby compelling him or her to serve the
maximum sentence allowed by law.
A study conducted in Pennsylvania illustrates
this phenomenon. In 2000, 16 percent of all
releasees in Pennsylvania served their maximum
sentence. For inmates with mental illness, however,
27 percent served their maximum sentence; of those
diagnosed as having a serious mental illness, 50
percent served their maximum sentence. Often,
inmates with mental illness served their maximum
sentence because they did not have an approved
parole housing plan, which was due to the lack of
housing, mental health, and substance abuse services available in the community, especially in rural areas.21
Determining the level of risk that an offender
poses to the community is one of the central responsibilities of parole board members in making their
decision as to whether to release an offender and
the types of conditions of release that should be imposed. Even in states that do not have a discretionary parole system, corrections departments often use

a validated instrument to assess the risk of offenders who are eligible for release. These corrections
departments and releasing authorities, however,
rarely take into account factors involving the
person’s mental illness.
The recommendations that follow describe how
to address these obstacles that impede effective release decision making: 1) the lack of professional,

clinical expertise as part of the prerelease consideration process; 2) the lack of sufficient, reliable information regarding the treatment history and
needs of the offender; and 3) the lack of sufficient
community-based resources and options for this
population.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Develop guidelines regarding release decisions that address issues unique to inmates with mental illness, and consult with mental health professionals during the decision-making process.

State statutes and administrative orders, usually in the form of structured
parole release guidelines, generally frame the parole board members’ decisionmaking process. Such guidelines typically address the general offender population only, however, without recognizing the special needs of offenders with
mental illness. For example, a person whose mental illness is particularly serious may have been unable to participate in job-training classes or other inmate
programming opportunities that would improve the likelihood of the inmate’s
timely release. Existing guidelines, however, typically emphasize participation
in such programs as nearly essential for release.
Many states are beginning to employ validated risk assessment instruments that can help guide their estimation of the potential risk offenders pose
to the community upon release. As with structured parole release guidelines,
however, employing risk assessment instruments designed for the general offender population may not adequately take into account the circumstances of
offenders with mental illness. In fact, no known risk assessment instrument
has been validated by research to predict accurately the nexus between mental
illness and risk.22
Until corrections systems develop or replicate such an instrument, they
should rely on mental health experts to evaluate the instruments they are currently using to ensure that they take into account mental health issues appropriately. In addition, releasing authorities should engage appropriate mental
health professionals to assess on a case-by-case basis offenders’ mental health
and potential risk. At least four states (Washington, Florida, Kansas, and Nebraska) require, by statute, evaluation of the mental health status of all in-

22. Polly Phipps and Gregg Gagliardi, Implementation of
Washington's Dangerous Mentally Ill Offenders Law: Preliminary Findings, Olympia, WA: Washington Institute for
Public Policy, March 2002, Appendix G.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 155

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 20: Release Decision

Terms of Release

mates prior to release to the community. Three of these states further require
the development of individualized treatment plans and the identification of programs and resources in the community to carry out such plans.
Releasing authorities should enlist the support of a mental health professional to assist in conducting the hearing, reviewing the inmate’s medical history within the institution, assessing the specific challenges he or she will face
when returning to the community, and identifying community resources to help
address the offender’s needs.
Example: Pre-Release Risk Assessment, the National Parole
Board of Canada

The National Parole Board of Canada incorporates psychological and psychiatric assessments into its risk assessment procedure, when appropriate, for all offenders
being considered for parole. Certain categories of offenders receive mandatory
prerelease psychological assessments, including those who have exhibited persistent
or gratuitous violence or those serving indeterminate of life sentences. Offenders who
have undergone treatment while incarcerated are required to have a post-treatment
report completed by a psychologist, case manager, or program officer to address any
changes of risk. A supplemental prerelease assessment is required only if the posttreatment report is considered insufficient to address the offender’s progress. Psychiatric assessments are required for any offender with a life or indeterminate sentence
seeking parole. Other issues that the parole board considers include the effects of
any current medications prescribed, the risk if the medication is no longer used, and
the programs and interventions in the community that will help the offender have a
successful reintegration.

Example: Contract for Risk Assessment Services, Missouri Parole Board

The Missouri Parole Board contracts for independent mental health assessment services to assist in identifying risk associated with the release of persons with mental
illness. The contract includes provision for the board to consult in person with psychiatrists when seeking information on particular cases, should they desire to do so.

b

Develop protocols to share information and resources among parole agencies, departments of corrections, and mental health organizations.

The value of risk assessments for inmates with mental illness depends on
the quality of information regarding an offender’s mental illness and the assistance of a clinician to evaluate and interpret that information for a releasing
authority. Nevertheless, releasing authorities (especially parole boards) report
considerable difficulty in gaining access to this information or mental health
expertise.

23. Travis et al., From Prison to Home, p.14.

156 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Prior to the late 1970s, most prisoners were offered conditional
(i.e., supervised) release through
the decisions of parole boards
that assessed individual risk and
took into account behavior in
prison. During the 1980s and
1990s, parole fell out of favor and
at least 40 states passed “truthin-sentencing” laws intended to
lessen the disparity between the
sentence imposed and the time
actually served. In 1990, 39 percent of inmates were released via
parole board decisions; by 1998
that fraction had dropped to 26
percent. Inmates are increasingly
likely to leave prison after mandatory release, which is determined by statute or sentencing
guidelines, not panel or board
decisions. From 1990 to 1998 the
rate of mandatory releases rose
from 29 percent to 40 percent of
prisoners. In addition, the rate
of unconditional release (i.e.,
requiring no supervision) rose
from 16 percent to 24 percent of
prisoners during the same period.
Though parole has decreased in
popularity, in most states the parole reforms have not been retroactive, so many prisoners continue to be eligible. Many states
also continue to perform some
kind of supervision of prison
releasees. The term “community
corrections” refers to the multiple
supervision strategies employed
by different states including, but
not limited to, parole.23

Parole officials typically rely on correctional health officials for information regarding an offender’s mental health. Such information, however, is often
dated and incomplete. Mental health information from community-based treatment agencies and providers would provide releasing authorities with a greater
understanding of the inmate’s mental health history. To that end, releasing
authorities should enter into agreements with mental health organizations to
ensure the confidential and appropriate sharing of information regarding a
person’s mental illness.
Several state parole boards have addressed these issues by collaborating
with their counterparts in the state mental health agencies.
Example: Memorandum of Understanding Between the New York State
Office of Mental Health and New York State Division of Parole

In 1994, the New York State Office of Mental Health and the New York State Division
of Parole signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to identify and better serve
people with mental illness. The MOU enhanced coordination of mental health evaluations for the board of parole; increased discharge planning for inmates with serious
mental illness; implemented mental health training for parole officers; and established a Dedicated Parole Caseload initiative.

Example: Multidisciplinary Team, Missouri Parole Board

The Missouri Parole Board employs a specially trained staff person who sits on a
team with institutional staff to develop a continued-care plan for inmates with mental
illness. The continued-care plan is holistic, addressing all areas of the offenders’ life
connected to his/her success in the community. The program consists of both an
institutional and a community release center phase. The institutional phase lasts for
four months and selected inmates spend two months in the community phase for a
combined minimum of six months. The program is used by the parole board as a prerelease planning mechanism, as well as an alternative to revocation for those who are
parole violators.

Example: Forensic Mental Health Coordinating Council (UT)

In 2002, the Utah legislature expanded the membership and scope of the Mental
Health and Corrections Advisory Council and renamed it the Forensic Mental Health
Coordinating Council. The Forensic Mental Health Coordinating Council includes representatives from the Department of Human Services Division of Mental Health, the
State Hospital, the Board of Pardons and Parole, the Attorney General’s Office, Department of Corrections (DOC), Services for People with Disabilities, community mental
health agencies, Division of Youth Corrections, and the state court administrator’s
office. The council was formed to develop policies for coordination between the
Division of Mental Health and the Department of Corrections, advise the DOC on care
for inmates with mental illness, promote interagency communication around issues of
mental illness and mental retardation, address civil commitment issues, and oversee
coordination of services and placement options for particular individuals.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 157

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 20: Release Decision

Example: Texas Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments (TCOMI),
Post-Release Aftercare

The TCOMI’s Continuity of Care (COC) program provides a pre- and postrelease aftercare system for all offenders with special needs released from TDCJ jails and prisons.
By identifying offenders prerelease who will need aftercare treatment, the chances for
a more successful reintegration into the community are improved. When these offenders are identified prior to release, conditions may be imposed by the parole board or
the courts that require mandatory participation in mental health treatment or other
similar rehabilitative programs. TCOMI has set up a regionalized continuity of care
system. Now, instead of a worker having to make repeated trips across the state, his/
her counterpart in that area conducts the prerelease activities. This strategy is being
implemented on a statewide basis. The majority of offenders released from TDCJ
facilities are returned to communities where TCOMI and, in some cases, parole jointly
operate community-based treatment programs. As a result, offenders are immediately
enrolled in treatment services that are targeted exclusively for them, thus eliminating
service delays. This approach, which was centrally developed but regionally implemented in association with community-based service providers, exemplifies what can
be accomplished when interagency partnerships and cooperation are established at
both the state and local levels.

c

Establish special conditions of release that are realistic, relevant,
and research-based to address the risks and needs of parolees
with mental illness.

Conditions of parole are the centerpiece of the release plan for a person
reentering the community from prison under supervised release. It is essential, especially when the parolee has a mental illness, that these conditions of
release be tailored to the risks and needs that the individual presents. A parolee should not be set up for failure; the conditions of release must be realistic
and enforceable. If the parolee has a mental illness, board members must confirm that the services can be made available before imposing conditions of release that require participation in certain community-based programs or treatment, and that the parolee can meet those conditions.
While release conditions will vary depending on the risks/needs of the individual parolee, outpatient and inpatient treatment, and methods to assure
that any necessary medications are taken should be requirements of any release plan for parolees with mental illness.
Example: Medically Recommended Intensive Supervision Program, Texas
Parole Board

The Texas Parole Board works in conjunction with the Texas Council on Offenders with
Mental Impairments (TCOMI) to identify offenders who are eligible for the Medically
Recommended Intensive Supervision Program. A special mental health panel, comprised of three members, considers special release conditions for these offenders.
The conditions are imposed when the board determines that a mental impairment
contributed to the commission of the instant offense(s) or may adversely affect a
parolee’s potential for success after release. The components of the conditions call

158 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"Offenders with mental
illness will likely fail attempts at community supervision unless the conditions of probation or
parole placed on them are
realistic, research-supported and relevant considering their specific
needs and capacities."
CARL WICKLUND
Executive Director,
American Probation and
Parole Association
Source: Personal

Correspondence, May 29, 2002

for the parolee to participate in psychological or psychiatric evaluation, participate in
mental health treatment, and use medication as proscribed by the attending physician
or psychiatrist.

In some jurisdictions, parole boards have the discretion to refer offenders
with mental illness for assessment, treatment and hospitalization. State law in
Utah authorizes the Utah Parole Board to place parolees with mental illness in
state hospitals for treatment as a condition of release if deemed medically necessary.
Access to income through a job or benefit program and to housing are other
key factors that should be reflected in the conditions of release. (See Policy
Statement 36: Integration of Services and Policy Statement 38: Housing, for
further discussion of employment and housing programs for people with mental illness.)

d

Ensure that the releasing authority can identify and obtain access
to community-based programs and resources adequate to support
the treatment and successful community reintegration of parolees
with mental illness and that such programs and resources are
available in the communities to which parolees return.

Lack of resources in the community is a major obstacle in addressing the
special needs of this group of offenders. When asked, “What community resource is most lacking in regard to placing parolees back into the community?”
state parole directors polled in the year 2000 identified the inadequacy of services for people with mental illness. The two resources they identified most
frequently— housing and licensed substance abuse treatment—are key to successful community reintegration for parolees with mental illness.24
For instance, paroling authorities are put in a difficult position when
prerelease program staff at the prison recommend specific conditions of release
that are difficult to implement or enforce, given limited resources available. In
these situations, the releasing authority may be understandably reluctant to
approve the inmate’s release. In some cases, the inmate’s release is delayed
due to the lack of an appropriate placement plan until they have completed
their sentence, causing them to return to the community without any structured plan or supervision. Such delays serve neither the offender’s treatment
needs nor the interests of justice.
Before placing an individual in the community, parole board members need
to be assured that the services required for the successful reintegration of the
offender with mental illness are available in the communities to which they
return. Most jurisdictions engage staff or consultants to the parole board to

24. Information gathered from an informal survey of
state parole directors taken at the winter 2000 meeting of
the Association of Paroling Authorities International, as

reported by Gail Hughes, director, private correspondence,
2001.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 159

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 20: Release Decision

investigate and report to the board the existence and adequacy of local services.
Boards need this assistance to help them know and understand the degree of
mental illness, needed elements of a release plan to the community, and alternatives to revocation.
Example: Forensic Community Re-entry and Rehabilitation for Female
Prison Inmates with Mental Illness, Mental Retardation, and Co-occurring
Disorders, Pennsylvania Department of Corrections

Due to the lack of sufficient community-based mental health services and adequate
housing, inmates with mental illness in Pennsylvania state prisons are significantly
more likely than other inmates to serve their maximum sentence. In response to this
problem, the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) developed the Forensic
Community Re-entry and Rehabilitation program, which is a collaborative effort between the DOC, the, Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole (PBPP), and the
Pennsylvania Community Providers Association (PCPA). The program will employ a
community placement specialist to develop, in conjunction with the parole board and
community-based providers, comprehensive transition plans and conduct follow up
for program participants. When necessary, the program will provide transitional housing for up to 60 days. Once the offender is paroled, the placement specialist will
conduct follow up interviews with community-based providers to monitor the offender’s
progress.
The program will be launched in May 2002.

e

Train parole board members to increase their knowledge of the
risks/needs of persons with mental illness and factors that mitigate that risk so release decisions and special conditions can be
determined appropriately.

Parole board members should have some familiarity with the nature and
types of mental illness, and how these disorders can be diagnosed and treated.
Training curricula should be developed and, depending on the jurisdiction, tailored for individuals appointed to serve as parole board members, both for new
appointees as well as on an annual or on-going basis for all members. (See
Policy Statement 30: Training for Corrections Personnel, for discussion and
examples of training for parole boards and parole officers.)

160 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 161

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

21

Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition Plan

Development of Transition Plan
POLICY STATEMENT #21

Facilitate collaboration among corrections, community corrections,
and mental health officials to effect the safe and seamless transition
of people with mental illness from prison to the community.

This policy statement addresses transition planning for sentenced inmates with mental illness who
are released from state prisons and county jails.
These releasees include inmates with mental illness
who will remain under some form of supervision by
the criminal justice system and inmates with mental illness who complete their sentence while in
prison or jail. (See Policy Statement 13: Intake at
County / Municipal Detention Facility, for a discussion of transition planning issues unique to jail detainees.)
Comprehensive transition planning is of paramount importance—especially when the inmate will
finish his or her sentence in prison and not be subject to conditions of release. For inmates with mental illness, whose community adjustment issues are
even more complex than inmates in the general
population, the need for systemic discharge planning is particularly crucial. For example, individuals with mental illness leaving prison without sufficient supplies of medication, connections to mental
health and other support services, and housing are
almost certain to decompensate, which in turn will
likely result in behavior that constitutes a technical
violation of release conditions or a new crime.

Engaging the personnel and resources of institutional corrections, community corrections, and
community mental health providers in developing
and implementing comprehensive transition plans
for offenders with mental illness can maximize the
likelihood of a safe and successful transition to the
community. Release planning, in principle, can
begin upon intake. In practice, jurisdictions initiate
and engage in prerelease planning at different times
prior to the release date (e.g., one year, six months),
and prerelease planning intensifies as the inmate
approaches the release date.
The nature and function of discharge planning
for inmates vary significantly depending upon
whether the individual is being released from a detention facility, a county penitentiary (following
completion of a jail sentence at a county correctional
institution), or a state prison. 25 The extent of
postrelease criminal justice supervision prescribed
for the inmate will determine the extent to which a
plan can or will be developed collaboratively among
criminal justice and mental health agency staff, as
well as the possibility of treating the discharge plan
as a condition of continued release.

25. In the case of the detainee, there is rarely any warning of the timing of his or
her release, resulting in little or no criminal justice supervision following release.
Oftentimes, the best that can be done is for the discharge planner to provide the detainee with referrals for use post-release. In such cases, the provision of ongoing

case management is unlikely. Issues related to release planning for pretrial defendants and defendants sentenced to time served are discussed in Policy Statement 13:
Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility.

162 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Identify transition planners in each institution and charge them
with coordinating a case management process, which incorporates
representatives of institutional corrections, community corrections, social service agencies, and community-based mental health
providers.

The position charged with transition planning varies among corrections
systems. In some jurisdictions, correctional staff provide both transition planning and case management services. The most common arrangement is for
prison staff to assume the lead role in transition planning, with some assistance from community corrections staff; once the inmate is released, community corrections staff assume the case management responsibilities. Regardless of the specifics of the arrangement, collaboration between the various
agencies and service providers who will be involved in the release, supervision,
treatment, and support of the releasee is essential to a successful transition
planning process.
Example: Forensic Transition Team, Massachusetts Department of
Mental Health

The Forensic Transition Team program was established in 1998 to provide transitional
release planning services for offenders about to be released from correctional custody.
The Forensic Transition Team conducts client interviews of inmates identified by
mental health staff and coordinates appropriate community mental health resources.
Team members work with offenders at least three months prior to their release, providing them with case coordination and consultation to community providers for up to
three months after release to address any obstacles to client community adjustment.
Arrangement of programs, treatments, and social support services is done in coordination with criminal justice officials to address public safety concerns. The team
collaborates both with institutional corrections authorities and with probation and
parole officials to coordinate the linkages for offenders with mental illness to receive
community-based services upon release. The Massachusetts Department of Mental
Health maintains a statewide database to track the progress of offenders served by
the program, as well as to inform further program development and research efforts.26

One particularly promising, albeit uncommon, strategy is to have the transition planner working with the inmate during the last months of his or her
incarceration continue as a case manager (coordinating the delivery of services
and facilitating the person’s compliance with conditions of release) after the
offender’s release to the community. As part of such a strategy, communitybased agency staff, who will eventually provide postrelease case management,
can be brought into the institution to work with institutional-based discharge
planners in devising and carrying out a comprehensive case management plan.

26. Stephanie W. Hartwell, Donna Haig Friedman, Karin
Orr, “From Correctional Custody to Community: The Massachusetts Forensic Transition Program,” New England
Journal of Public Policy, Spring/Summer, 2001, pp. 73-81.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 163

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition Plan

Example: Women’s Discovery and Safe Release Programs, Rhode Island
Department of Corrections

The Women’s Discovery Program is a voluntary substance abuse treatment program
offered to all women incarcerated in Rhode Island state prisons. All inmates who
spend at least 30 days in the Discovery Program are eligible for an additional component called Safe Release. The Safe Release Program provides mental health treatment
services and specialized mental health discharge planning services to inmates with
mental illness. Case managers from a local community-based mental health provider,
the Providence Center, work with corrections staff to oversee the discharge planning
for these inmates as well as providing post-discharge case management services for
up to one year, thus ensuring continuity of care.

Regardless for whom the transition planner works, it is essential that he
or she be required to coordinate a team of people who, collectively, represent
the agencies and organizations whose support and assistance are essential to
the successful implementation of the transition plan.27 These agencies usually
include, at a minimum, corrections, parole (or releasing authority), mental health
agencies, housing, employment, health and welfare agencies and private providers of treatment and support services all have a part in the individual’s life.
The collective participation of representatives of the community in the development of treatment plan—and their subsequent investment in its success—
serves many purposes. First, it encourages coordination between local outpatient services and correctional facilities. Second, it promotes the mutual
accountability of correctional administrators and mental health treatment officials for the treatment of offenders with mental illness. Third, it facilitates the
sharing of important information regarding the treatment history of the individual and his or her progress following release.
Missouri employs multidisciplinary teams to assess clients, plan interventions, and carry out services for parolees both in the institution and in the community.
Example: Multi-disciplinary Team, Missouri Parole Board

The Missouri Parole Board has a staff person who sits on a team with institutional
staff to develop a continued care plan for persons with mental illness. The continuedcare plan is holistic in nature, addressing all areas of persons with mental illness
offenders’ life connected to his/her success in the community. Once planned, the
multidisciplinary team oversees the parolee’s progress and the delivery of services.
The program consists of both an institutional and a community release center phase.
The institutional phase lasts for four months and selected inmates spend two months
in the community phase for a combined minimum of six months. The program is
used by the parole board as a prerelease requirement as well as an alternative to
revocation for those who are parole violators.

27. Individuals who are able to coordinate cross-systems
activities such as transition planning are often referred to
as boundary spanners. Boundary spanners must be able to
understand and work within the different cultures, policies,
and procedures of multiple areas (e.g., corrections, parole,
and community mental health) and successfully bridge the
gaps between different services systems that individuals

with mental illness often fall through. For more on boundary spanners see Henry J. Steadman, “Boundary Spanners:
A Key Component for the Effective Interactions of the Justice and Mental Health Systems,” Law and Human Behavior 16:1, 1992, pp. 75-86.

164 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Successfully coordinating each of these teams and developing a transition
plan that addresses the complex needs of people with criminal records who
have a mental illness requires careful work and is extremely time consuming.
Accordingly, the ratio of individuals conducting discharge planning and case
management services to releasees should be low, ideally with caseloads no higher
than 20 releasees per supervision officer.

b

Involve all relevant agents and individuals who will assist in carrying out the transition plan, including family members, in its development.

If possible, all parties, including the inmate, should participate in a discharge planning meeting just prior to the inmate being released. This provides
all parties with the opportunity to understand one another’s roles and responsibilities set forth in the treatment and community integration plan, as well as
to establish a working relationship to carry out the conditions of the arrangement. Ideally, family members should be part of this process. The offender or
family may decline, however, especially if family members do not feel they are
prepared to support the inmate upon his or her release.

c

Take steps to ensure that the inmate’s release from secure housing to the community progresses in a gradual sequence of planned
steps.

Corrections systems have developed different approaches to ensure that
an inmate’s release into the community is gradual. In many state departments
of correction, inmates nearing their statutorily mandated release date or those
who have been granted a parole are assigned to prerelease programs. Some of
these programs involve assignment to a prerelease housing unit either within a
minimum-security unit or in a community-based setting (such as a halfway
house). Correctional discharge planners assigned to these programs help make
community contacts and referrals for housing, employment, and services.

d

Develop a transition plan that includes the inmate’s assignment to
a community-based provider whose resources and assets are consistent with the needs and strengths of the inmate.

Transition planners’ responsibilities include assessing offenders’ needs and
strengths and facilitating linkages to appropriate community-based services.
Given the special needs of this population, transition planners need to be aware
of what services are available in the jurisdictions they serve and which community-based mental health and habilitation services are necessary for the care
and treatment of people with mental illness.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 165

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition Plan

While institutional release planning staff reach out to identify resources in
the community, it is equally important to establish a working relationship between the offender and a community mental health provider prior to his or her
release to ensure continuity of care. As discussed above, encouraging and facilitating providers’ access (“in reach”) to the facility will foster community linkages and increase the likelihood that the offender will be engaged and served
effectively upon his/her release from the institution.
Example: Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Program (WA)

In 1999 officials in Washington State enacted legislation regarding “dangerous mentally ill offenders” released from Department of Corrections (DOC) facilities. The
statute directed the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) and DOC to
work together to expedite financial and medical eligibility for the offender and establish interagency teams for pre-release planning. The interagency planning teams
include DOC Risk Management Specialists, a community corrections officer, a representative of the relevant Regional Support Network (RSN), representatives of community-based mental health and substance abuse providers, family members, and law
enforcement. The interagency team begins to develop comprehensive release plans at
least three months prior to release, including detailed plans for the 48 hours postrelease,
service plans (housing, treatment, etc.), victim services, financial resources, and
community corrections information. Case managers, community-based mental health
and chemical dependency providers, and community corrections officers visit the
offender where he or she is incarcerated, facilitating the development of relationships
prior to release.

The case management plan should include dates, times, and locations for
follow-up appointments with community supervision agencies and for appointments with treatment providers. Mental health case managers also can then
be on hand to ensure that the releasee is engaged in the planned treatment and
service programs and to monitor the initial delivery services.
Since such a large proportion of offenders with mental illness also have
histories of substance abuse, it is likely that the community transition and case
management plan will also include provision for substance abuse treatment
(see Policy Statement 17: Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates, for more
on co-occurring disorder statistics in prisons; also Co-Occurring Disorders).
Substance abuse treatment services may be provided at one site as part of a
comprehensive program for dually diagnosed offenders. If substance abuse treatment is to be provided off site and/or by a separate agency, or if the releasee is to
participate in 12-step or other community-based fellowship programs, the community-based case manager should also make arrangements for the offender to
receive escort to initial meetings and appointments and ensure that engagement has occurred. Twelve-step fellowship programs, such as Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous, provide escort services as part of their regional
World Fellowship Networks. These organizations list local groups and fellowship networks in the white pages of regional phone books.
At a minimum, discharge planners can facilitate case conferences that include participating treatment and social service providers as well as the of-

166 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"When I discovered that
mentally ill inmates were
dropped off in the middle
of the night with two subway tokens and a few days
worth of medication, I
thought it was a joke. After all, what kind of system could be that apathetic to the needs of the
mentally ill and society
alike?"
KIM WEBDALE
Victim Advocate, NY
Source: U.S. House Committee

on the Judiciary, The Impact of
the Mentally Ill on the Criminal
Justice System, September 21
2001

fender. When face-to-face case conference is not feasible (for instance, due to
prohibitive distances between the institution and the home community), it may
be conducted as a teleconference. A number of jurisdictions recognize the importance of case conferencing, and have taken steps to make sure that it occurs.

e

Integrate housing support services into the transition plan and
provide releasees with mental illness an arrangement for safe
housing or at a minimum, shelter.

Adequate housing is the linchpin of successful reentry for offenders with
mental illness. Housing, especially when it is combined with support services,
provides a stable base from which individuals can access treatment in the crucial days immediately succeeding release. Every person with mental illness
leaving jail or prison should have in place an arrangement for safe housing (or,
at the least, shelter).
Unfortunately, locating suitable housing for their clients is one of the greatest challenges for discharge planners and community-based case managers (see
Policy Statement 38: Housing). They will need to know what type of housing
arrangements are available in the communities they serve; how to make the
appropriate connections between the offender and the landlord; and what provisions there are for indigents unable to pay the rent. Perhaps even more important, the discharge planners and community case managers must know how
to overcome explicit or implicit prejudices and exclusions based on either mental illness or criminal history. For example, individuals convicted of certain
violent, drug-related, or sex-related offenses are not eligible for federal housing
subsidies.28 Transition planners are likely to encounter considerable resistance
from private-sector individuals and agencies, and, to be effective, will have to
assume the role of housing and social services advocate for the releasee. At
least one jurisdiction is developing a program to address this crucial issue.
Example: Parole Support and Treatment Program (PSTP), Project
Renewal, New York City (NY)

Project Renewal is a New York City based nonprofit that provides an array of services
for individuals who are homeless and have mental illness and substance abuse problems. The Parole Support and Treatment Program is a joint effort between Project
Renewal, the New York State Office of Mental Health, and the New York State Division
of Parole. The PSTP will provide 50 new units of transitional, supportive housing and
intensive clinical services to newly released parolees who suffer from serious and
persistent mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse disorders. The program
will combine an “ACT-like” treatment team and 50 scattered-site supported transi-

28. Any offender who is subject to a lifetime registration
requirement under a state sex-offender program is ineligible for public, Section 8, and other federally assisted
housing. Similarly, anyone who has engaged in drug-related, violent, or other criminal activity that would “adversely affect the health, safety, or right to peaceful enjoyment of the premises” may be denied federal housing

assistance. The decision to deny this assistance is based
on how recent the conviction for these crimes. See Legal
Action Center, “Housing Laws Affecting Individuals with
Criminal Convictions,” available at:
www.enterprisefoundation.org/model%20documents/
1150.pdf

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 167

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition Plan

tional housing beds. During their time in transitional housing parolees will work with
the clinical team to transition into permanent housing, ranging from community residences to Section 8 apartments.

All individuals with serious mental illness leaving jail or prison should be
physically transported to their housing arrangement or shelter and provided
with a short-term supply of medication and a prescription (or provision) for
long-term supply. In such cases, the mental health agency assigned to provide
the offender with community services is the appropriate agency to provide transport from the jail or prison to the place where the offender will reside.

f

Make arrangements for at least a week’s supply of important
medications, along with refillable prescriptions, to be provided to
inmates at the point of release.

Offenders should have an adequate supply of essential psychotropic medications upon their release. They should be given at least a seven-day supply
and prescriptions sufficient for the period up to when entitlements may reasonably be expected to be reinstated, typically within 90 days after release to the
community. States that contract with private correctional health care providers for the provision of institutional health care should include in their contracts a requirement that these extra medications are provided to discharged
inmates. Also, if it has not already been done by agents of the detention or
corrections authority, the community-based agency or case manager responsible for the released offender should take steps to reinstate the individual on
Medicaid in order to pay for necessary medications.

g

Develop a process to ensure that inmates eligible for public benefits receive them immediately upon their release.

Community-based mental health providers are reluctant to provide services to people with criminal records for numerous reasons. Near or at the top
of this list of reasons is this population’s inability to pay for treatment. State
and county government officials attempting to control the explosive growth of
health care expenditures routinely warn providers about delivering services to
individuals who ultimately do not qualify for federal benefits; providers will not
receive back-payments for the delivery of these services. Given the crushing
demand that they are attempting to accommodate, providers are understandably hesitant to deliver services to a person who does not have health insurance
and whose eligibility for public benefits is not immediately apparent.
Corrections administrators and health officials can take several steps to
facilitate inmates’ participation in federal benefit programs (see Appendix C:
Explanation of Federal Benefit Programs). First, state officials should require

168 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"If you have a schizophrenic walking the
streets, do you think that
person can hold themselves together until their
benefits are reinstated?"
DAVE BRENNA
Salt Lake County Mental
Health Director, UT
Source: Amy Joi Bryson, "Jails

of the mind: End of incarceration
brings end of meds—and new
problems," Desert News, Sunday,
May 19, 2002,

Understanding
Federal Benefit
Programs

corrections staff to distribute to inmates information and application forms for
all relevant federal and state benefit programs, including Medicaid; federal SSI
and SSDI benefits; Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF); food
stamps; veterans programs; and state general assistance. Staff should provide
additional assistance, and in general pay particular attention, to subsets of the
inmate population with mental illness who are especially likely to qualify for
benefit programs, including those who meet the following criteria: 1) received
federal benefits at the time of incarceration; 2) have very low incomes, particularly those under age 21; 3) are veterans; or 3) are parents of children under 18
and likely to be custodial parents upon release.
Example: Partners Aftercare Network (SPAN), San Bernadino (CA)

This initiative established a multi-agency team whose purpose is to link inmates with
serious mental illness to needed mental health services upon their release from jail.
The aftercare management team serves as a “bridge” between custody and community integration by providing, among other things, financial advocacy to assist clients
in obtaining Social Security and medical and other benefits.

Second, appropriate authorities should establish a process through which
the state Medicaid agency will accept applications from inmates while they are
still in custody and will process these applications in a timely manner to ensure
that those found potentially eligible are then able obtain access to the benefits
immediately upon release. Corrections administrators must appreciate the difficulty in timing a person’s participation in benefit programs. Accordingly, corrections officials should inform local social security offices and the state Medicaid agency as early as possible of the exact date of release of inmates who qualify,
or may qualify, for benefits.

Several federal benefit programs
are par ticularly relevant for
people with mental illness who
will be released from a corrections facility: Supplemental Security Income (SSI) disability
benefits; Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI); Medicaid;
Medicare; Temporary Assistance
for Needy Families (TANF); Food
Stamps, and Veterans Benefits.
Implementing the recommendations under this policy statement
requires an understanding of who
is eligible to participate in these
programs and how they qualify.
These complex issues are described in Appendix C, a reprint
of a policy brief that the Bazelon
Center for Mental Health Law
published. Recommendations regarding Medicaid eligibility of
pretrial detainees who were enrolled in Medicaid immediately
prior to their incarceration appear
in Policy Statement 13: Intake at
County / Municipal Detention
Center.

Example: Medicaid Reenrollment for Inmates at Hamden County Correctional Center (MA)

At Hamden County Correctional Center, discharge planning begins at least three months
before an inmate’s scheduled release. The mental health treatment division in the jail
employs one social worker who focuses on discharge planning for inmates with mental
illness. The discharge planner helps inmates to apply for Medicaid, SSI, Mass Health,
and other appropriate entitlement programs. The goal is to have inmates considered
eligible for entitlement programs at the time of their release.

In establishing this process, corrections administrators should work with
local mental health authorities to arrive at an agreement regarding diagnoses
of people who are disabled and therefore may be eligible for SSI (and, by extension, Medicaid). Corrections administrators should also assist inmates in applying for state identification cards, which will be provided upon the inmate’s
release. Without such proof of identification, it is nearly impossible for a person to avail him or herself of many benefits or services.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 169

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

h

Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition Plan

Notify the victim before the offender is released from prison, consistent with the requirements of the state’s law or constitution,
prior to release.

The vast majority of states have a statute or a constitutional amendment
requiring that the victim be notified before the offender is released from prison.29
Regardless of whether the inmate to be released has a mental illness, releasing
authorities and correctional staff must comply with victim notification requirements.
Efforts should be made through correctional crime victim specialists and
community-based crime victim agencies to reach out to crime victims and inform them of the pending release date of those who have victimized them, to
educate them as to the decisions being made on behalf of the offender, and to
provide them information about the measures being taken to ensure their safety.

i

Monitor the inmate closely in the days approaching release and
modify the discharge plan when appropriate.

Successful implementation of the transition plan is usually contingent on
the following:
“

updated examinations, which closely reflect the status of the inmate’s
mental health and psychotropic medication requirements on or near
the release date;

“

cooperation among at least two agencies to enable representatives from
one agency to navigate another system credibly; and

“

provision of a mental health status evaluation for the purpose of risk
assessment and/or supervision. (See Policy Statement 19: Subsequent
Referral for Screening and Mental Health Evaluation.)

A mental health professional should conduct a mental health assessment
of the inmate at a point just prior to release to ensure that the discharge plan is
fully adequate to addressing the inmate’s current needs and circumstances. If
it is not, the mental health professional should work with the releasing authority to modify the discharge plan accordingly.

j

Provide enhanced discharge planning, including extensive coordination with the community treatment provider, to ensure continued
case management for inmates with mental illness who will complete their sentence in prison.

Approximately one out of every five sentenced inmates in the United States
is released from a correctional facility without any continued community-based

29. See National Center for Victims of Crime, Crime Victims Source Book, Section 3, Right to Notice.

170 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"Our treatment programs
tell us that...the single
issue that is an impediment to the continuity of
care is Medicaid eligibility."
GARY FIELD
Administrator, Counseling
and Treatment Services,
Department of
Corrections, OR
Source: Interview, January 11,

2002

supervision.30 These inmates complete their sentence in prison because, through
the abolition of parole and other measures, state law prohibits the release of an
offender from prison before his sentence is completed or because releasing authorities denied the inmate’s request for release. Due to disciplinary histories
and reluctance of authorities to release people with mental illness to the community before their sentence has expired, issues discussed earlier in this report, the percentage of inmates with mental illness who complete their sentence
while in prison is probably greater than the 20 percent figure that applies to all
general population inmates.31 (See Policy Statement 20: Release Decision.)
Offenders with mental illness released to the community without community supervision are particularly difficult cases to manage, both because supervision and participation in treatment and social service programs are completely
voluntary and because many newly released offenders resist services and treatment. For those releasees who are unwilling to seek traditional mental health
system services, an approach to consider is to link them to consumer-run programs, like a drop-in center, or to create peer (i.e., individuals with mental
illness who has themselves once been incarcerated) contacts for outreach. Such
programs or outreach provide contacts, appropriate socialization experiences,
and can link individuals to services once they are ready. (See Policy Statement
39: Consumer and Family Member Involvement.)
Releasing authorities should strongly encourage offenders with mental illness to continue services after release, as well as encourage the community
mental health programs as much as possible to conduct active monitoring and
outreach to recently released offenders referred to them and otherwise attempt
to provide such services.
Absent criminal justice oversight and supervision, referral to communitybased mental health case management and advocacy programs is perhaps the
best recourse. Again, reaching out to community-based organizations and agencies that would serve this population and facilitating their access to the institution/inmate prior to release will enhance the likelihood that an individual, upon
release, would seek out services. It is also an attractive alternative to and
adjunct of criminal justice supervision since community mental health case
management services are often eligible for Medicaid reimbursement. (See Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System, especially Policy Statements 36, 37, and 39, for further discussion of mental health case management
services.)

30. Travis et al., From Prison to Home, p. 15.
31. Based on the time of admission to the time of expected release, offenders with mental illness were expected

to spend 15 months longer in state prison than were offenders without mental illness. Ditton, Mental Health and
Treatment, p. 8. See also note 21.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 171

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 22: Modification of Conditions of Supervised Release

Modification of Conditions of

22

Supervised Release
POLICY STATEMENT #22

Monitor and facilitate compliance with conditions of release and respond swiftly and appropriately to violations of conditions of release.

As explained earlier in this report, approximately 80 percent of sentenced inmates are released
under some form of community supervision.32 Successful completion of a period of community supervision is particularly difficult for offenders with
mental illness. The transition planning process described in the preceding policy statement often is
not in place, and people with mental illness who are
released from prison sometimes wonder whether
they have been set up to fail. They must find a mental health provider willing to deliver services to a
person who not only has a criminal record but who
also is (often) without the resources to pay for treatment and has yet to demonstrate eligibility for Medicaid. Oftentimes, when a provider does accept a
parolee, the person with the criminal record learns
that he must identify a second provider who will
treat his or her substance abuse problem.
Offenders with mental illness recently released
from prison also must find housing and, despite not
having any savings or a paycheck, pay the first
month’s rent in advance. Furthermore, to maintain
some form of public assistance, they need to demonstrate that they are actively seeking a job. Yet

32. Travis et al., From Prison to Home, p. 20.

172 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

few employers are willing to hire anyone with a
criminal record, and the stigma that surrounds mental illness compounds the problem. Overcoming
these obstacles to successful reintegration into the
community, while attempting to coordinate appointments in a schedule already crowded with meetings
with a supervision officer, a mental health clinician,
and a peer substance abuse support group is nearly
impossible—and especially so for someone without
access to transportation. Not surprisingly, these
individuals often return to the types of criminal behavior that originally prompted their incarceration.
Community corrections officers also feel like
they have been presented with an impossible situation. With caseloads sometimes reaching into the
hundreds, supervision officers are without the time
or resources to facilitate an offender’s compliance
with conditions of release. Furthermore, they are
unable to observe the offender closely either to gain
an improved understanding of the individual or to
spot dangerous behavior.
At the same time, parole administrators are
under significant political pressure to hold parolees
accountable for violations of conditions of release

and to ensure that a parolee does not become a frontpage news story. The absence of coherent policies
regarding parole revocation decisions for parole violators who have a mental illness exacerbates the
problem.
Given this situation, supervision officers often
respond to any violation of supervision by recommending the reincarceration of the offender. Although in many cases these violations (“technical
violations”) do not constitute a new crime, they demonstrate behavior (e.g., homelessness, substance
abuse, lack of employment, or failure to take medication) to a community corrections officer that indicates the releasee is returning to a lifestyle that, if
not changed, will result in recidivism. As a result,

many such parolees are returned to prison not for
new offenses but rather for technical rule violations—such as missed appointments with a parole
officer or testing positive for substance abuse.
Recognizing the complexity of this task, and the
extent to which supervision officers lack many of
the resources they need to perform their responsibilities, the following recommendations for implementation explain the value of tapping communitybased resources such as mental health providers and
family members. They also outline elements of a
collaborative relationship among these entities, with
the aim of encouraging an offender with mental illness to comply with conditions of release and to hold
him or her appropriately accountable.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Assign small, specialized caseloads of parolees with mental illness to parole officers who have received advanced training in
mental health issues.

As discussed in the preceding policy statement, people with mental illness
released to the community usually have a long, complicated list of needs; monitoring and facilitating the releasee’s progress in the community is a complex,
time-intensive responsibility. It is unrealistic to assume that, in their current
situation, community corrections officers will have the time or the expertise to
devote to all these cases.
Specialized training for these supervision officers is essential (see Policy
Statement 30: Training for Corrections Personnel). Supervision officers who
are trained and experienced in working with offenders with mental illness are
much more likely to be attuned to available treatment options, signals of distress, and signs of decompensation. Under these circumstances, supervising
officers are much more likely to seek out and arrange revised treatment options
and other relevant remedies in lieu of issuing a warrant and instituting violation proceedings that would likely result in reincarceration. It is also worth
noting that parole officers who seek specialized training are especially interested in working with this population and thus are likely to engage them in a
particularly constructive way.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 173

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 22: Modification of Conditions of Supervised Release

Example: Specialized Caseloads, New York State Division of Parole

The New York State Division of Parole (DOP), in conjunction with the New York Office
of Mental Health (OMH), has established specialized caseloads in certain metropolitan areas to service parolees with mental illness. Parole officers in this program
receive specialized training on mental illness and carry a reduced caseload of approximately 25 cases. The specialized parole officers work with community mental
health agencies to link parolees to appropriate services. (See also Policy Statement
20: Release Decision, for more on collaboration between the New York DOP and the
New York OMH.)

Example: Special Management Unit, Connecticut Board of Parole

The Connecticut Board of Parole has established a Special Management Unit to supervise parolees requiring ongoing intensive supervision or specialized treatment. The
unit focuses primarily on supervision of paroled sex offenders but also works with
parolees with severe mental illness. Special Management Unit parole officers receive
training in supervision and in medical, and mental health issues and maintain a
caseload of no more than 25 parolees. The unit emphasizes interaction between
treatment providers and parole officers; officers participate in both group and one-onone counseling sessions with offenders.

Small, specialized caseloads can also enable community corrections officers to develop effective working relationships with community service providers. Mental health providers, whose time and resources are already spread
thin, are often untrained on how to take into account the criminal history (and
the providers’ obligations to the criminal justice system) of clients referred to
them by the criminal justice system. (Training for mental health providers on
working with criminal justice populations is essential to address this issue.
See Policy Statement 31: Training for Mental Health Professionals.) Some
community-based mental health providers, often citing liability concerns, explicitly refuse to serve individuals with criminal histories.33 (See Policy Statement 1: Involvement with Mental Health System, for more on access to services
and priority populations.)
In rural jurisdictions, where there may not be enough offenders with mental illness to merit a specialized caseload, supervision officers at a minimum
should receive orientation and training to monitor and assess offenders on their
caseloads who have mental illness. Like their urban counterparts, they should
be prepared to make appropriate referrals in the event of new problems and/or
technical violations rather than relying on revocation of parole. The availability of specialized services and resources for offenders in rural jurisdictions poses
difficult transportation issues. Rural jurisdictions may be able to establish special services, transportation, and supervision arrangements in facilitating collaboration between criminal justice agencies and mental health service providers or other social service providers for whom the parolee is a member of a
shared population.

33. According to Doug Bray, Court Administrator,
Multnomah County, Oregon, community-based service providers’ refusal to serve individuals with criminal records

contributed to the foundering of the Multnomah County
pretrial diversion program. Information provided in private
correspondence, May 7, 2002.

174 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

b

Encourage community corrections staff to conduct field supervision and other monitoring responsibilities within the communities,
homes, and community-based service programs where the releasee spends most of his or her time.

Supervision officers should maintain contact with ex-offenders in their communities rather than monitoring them remotely from a centralized office. Community-based supervision enables the officer to monitor the offender more closely,
thus improving the officer’s familiarity with the unique obstacles that often
impede the released offender’s compliance with the conditions of his/her release. In addition, frequent contact with mental health treatment providers
improves supervision officers’ understanding of these services. It can also help
them ascertain whether mental health treatment providers are offering the
services needed.
In addition to the benefits derived from close community monitoring of exoffenders, there has been some recent success in community mapping. Following the example of crime mapping in law enforcement, some jurisdictions have
begun to use similar mapping techniques to identify specific districts and neighborhoods where significant numbers of ex-offenders are located. This information may be used to design community-based initiatives focusing on these neighborhoods. Such a technique might be used to identify clusters of offenders with
mental illness who live in specific neighborhoods and where specialized field
supervision and mental health services might be located and deployed. The
mapping function can be a collaborative effort as well between criminal justice
providers and social service agencies, with the dual benefit of collaboration and
a work product in the end useful to all parties involved.

c

Work closely with mental health administrators and providers to
ensure that parolees receive services and resources specified in
community reintegration and supervision plans.

The successful reintegration of offenders with mental illness back into the
community depends, in large part, on their ability to obtain access to a range of
mental health and related services. Oftentimes, it is the lack of adequate mental
health resources—within both correctional institutions and the community—that
impedes the decision to release offenders with mental illness who might otherwise be eligible for release. Those offenders with mental illness who are released
to supervision are often required to maintain some level of mental health treatment. If mental health service providers do not make adequate services available to the offender, he or she may be violated and unnecessarily reincarcerated.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 175

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 22: Modification of Conditions of Supervised Release

Institutional corrections, parole boards, and community corrections agencies can encourage mental health agencies and providers to provide adequate
services through improved cross-system collaboration. The Texas Council on
Mentally Ill Offenders (Policy Statement 20) and the Washington Dangerous
Mentally Ill Offender Program, and Massachusetts Forensic Transition Team
(Policy Statement 21) all help community corrections agencies work together
with mental health service providers to ensure that offenders under community supervision receive the services that they need. The Rhode Island Fellowship Health Resources program is a similar model of collaboration between corrections and mental health providers.
Example: Fellowship Community Reintegration Services (RI)

Operated under contract with the Rhode Island Department of Mental Health, Retardation, and Hospitals by Fellowship Health Resources, a nonprofit agency, Fellowship
Community Reintegration Services (CRS) provides discharge planning and advocacy
for released offenders to ensure that they receive appropriate community placements
and services as well as assistance with applications for entitlements and any needed
education or employment referrals. Clients may be placed in any of a variety of
community agencies, including residential substance abuse treatment facilities, or
may be placed on home confinement with provisions made for service delivery. Fellowship CRS tracks its clients for one year postrelease to gather outcome data and
determine the appropriateness of available placements.

d

Ensure that released offenders are connected to a 24-hour crisis
service.

Crisis services provide community corrections officers with a quick intervention that enables them to respond effectively—without depending on
reincarceration exclusively—to address technical violations, such as a missed
appointment, of conditions of release. Correctional mental health professionals maintain that this type of brief intervention during points of crisis will reduce subsequent (and likely more serious) violations of conditions of supervised
release.34

e

Establish protocols to share information between community supervision agencies and community mental health providers regarding compliance with conditions of release.

For community corrections officers to develop confidence in a communitybased service, they must trust that providers will inform them about behavior
that constitutes violations of conditions of release. At the same time, providers

34. Gary Field, Administrator of Counseling and Treatment Services, Oregon Department of Corrections, private
correspondence.

176 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"We would never tell a man
with a broken leg, 'we'll
give you treatment if you
walk to the hospital.' Yet
we tell a person in the
most severe throes of
mental illness, 'we'll give
you treatment if you first
think your way there.'"
CARLA JACOBS
Board Member,
National Alliance for
the Mentally Ill
Source: Los Angeles Times,

Monday, August 3, 1998

do not want to be in a position of monitoring a parolee’s conditions of release;
that would likely undermine their relationship with the client.
Various jurisdictions have developed compromises between community
corrections agencies and service providers, which enable both groups to adhere
to their responsibilities.
Typically, community corrections officers do not need or want detailed information about the mental health treatment process. What they are most
interested in are brief progress reports, and to be notified about behaviors that
violate conditions of supervision. A transition plan should involve a written
release from the offender, permitting mental health providers to share this information with community corrections agencies. (See Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information.)
Example: Forensic Transition Team, Massachusetts Department of
Mental Health

The Forensic Transition Team in Massachusetts ensures that offenders participating
in the program sign a release that allows open communication between mental health
providers and parole staff. No information is exchanged without a written release
except as required under mandatory reporting statutes. Parole field-staff are often
involved in a primary way with treating staff upon release. Occasionally they are
invited to case conferences or other gatherings of the treatment community to offer
oversight on a case. In general, the parole officers are most interested in compliance
with treatment as part of the conditions of release.

f

Develop a range of graduated sanctions to compel (and incentives
to encourage) compliance with conditions of release.

Community supervision staff members need to be prepared to address the
needs of the offender with mental illness who may be unable to comply with the
traditional mandates of community supervision. Although reincarceration of
the offender may be the most expedient response in the short run, it may not be
the best use of criminal justice resources or, in the long term, be the response
most likely to prevent the person from reoffending. Absent new criminal behavior by the probationer or parolee, alternative responses should be considered. Incarceration should be reserved for those cases that represent a threat
to public safety.
To provide the most effective intermediate sanctions, criminal justice officials should develop agreements with case management service providers, advocacy organizations, specialized employment/vocational providers, crisis services, and mental health treatment programs to provide support for individuals
with mental illness when problems arise. If a probationer or parolee with mental illness decompensates considerably after his or her release, increasing treatment should be considered prior to recommending the offender be returned to

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 177

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 22: Modification of Conditions of Supervised Release

custody. Providing aggressive treatment may stabilize the offender’s mental
condition much more effectively and economically that reincarceration.
Offenders with mental illness who are returned to the community may
need more intensive services and supervision than originally planned prior to
their release, particularly in relation to their reaction to the stresses of returning to the community. An effective approach to violations of conditions of supervision is to increase gradually the level of treatment intervention in combination with a graduated series of predetermined responses (rather than violating
them immediately upon the first technical violation). There should be some
flexibility for the officer to use a reasonable level of discretion while maintaining program consistency.
Agencies such as New York City’s Center for Alternative Sentencing and
Employment Services (CASES) provide interagency case planning and management services for “special needs” offenders, such as offenders with mental
illness, who are in jeopardy of parole revocation due to noncriminal violations
of conditions of community supervision.
Example: Parole Restoration Project, Center for Alternative Sentencing
and Employment Services (CASES), New York City (NY)

CASES recently developed the Parole Restoration Project for technical parole violators
incarcerated in New York City jails whose parole status would otherwise be revoked.
The project attempts to increase the number of special needs parole violators returning to parole community supervision instead of state prison. The project’s clients
include substance abusers, people with a mental illness, people with co-occurring
disorders, and women. Project staff identify eligible participants, assess their treatment needs, link them to community-based service providers, gain support for the
treatment plan from parole field staff and assigned counsel, submit a comprehensive
report to the administrative law judge and the board of parole advocating for restitution of parole under the recommended treatment program, and coordinate the release
and monitoring of compliance.

Other agencies, such as the Cook County, Illinois, Department of Adult
Probation and the Maricopa County, Arizona, Probation Office, employ a graduated ladder of sanctions and special, individualized services for probationers or
parolees with special needs. Still others, like the Hawaii Paroling Authority
and the Kentucky Department of Corrections, offer a structured living environment to parolees with mental illness where care, treatment, and housing are
provided.
Incentives and positive reinforcement can also be useful tools in helping
offenders with mental illness adhere to the conditions of their release.
Example: Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Program (WA)

As part of the Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender legislation, Washington State appropriated additional funds to support the transition of offenders with mental illness back
into the community. Regional Support Networks, components of the Washington
mental health system, have used a portion of these funds for incentives (such as new
clothing) as a means to increasing compliance with treatment plans.

178 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 179

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 23: Maintaining Contact Between Individual and
Mental Health System

Maintaining Contact Between Individual and

23

Mental Health System
POLICY STATEMENT #23

Ensure that people with mental illness who are no longer under supervision of the criminal justice system maintain contact with mental
health services and supports for as long as is necessary.

People with mental illness who come out of
prison must have access to services they need to reintegrate into community settings successfully. The
preceding policy statement discusses the importance
of collaboration between mental health and community corrections agencies in ensuring that individuals with mental illness who are granted supervised
release receive appropriate mental health services.
This policy statement addresses the role of the mental health system in providing services and support
for individuals released from prison who are no
longer under continued supervision from the criminal justice system. This group includes those who
have completed their sentence in prison or jail and
are released without conditions as well as those who
have successfully met the conditions of release and
are no longer under supervision in the community.
Once offenders have completed the terms of
their sentence or conditional release, ongoing monitoring by and reporting to the criminal justice system is neither warranted nor justifiable. However,
in light of the high recidivism rates of offenders with
mental illness, it is crucial that the mental health
system maintain contact with individuals who have
been incarcerated to prevent their renewed involvement with the criminal justice system.

180 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

As is true of anyone with mental illness attempting to live independently in the community,
offenders have basic needs for housing and supports
that must be adequately met if reentry is to succeed. By ensuring access to appropriate services and
necessary supports, especially housing, and by developing and utilizing mechanisms to ensure ongoing contact, community mental health providers can
play an important role in successful community reintegration of former prisoners who have mental illness.
Community mental health providers must be
attuned to the special needs and circumstances of
released offenders with mental illness and provide
services that enhance their ability to live independently. By identifying recently incarcerated clients
with mental illness as a “special needs” or “priority”
population, community providers can develop treatment plans and provide services that ensure monitoring and outreach to fit an individual’s circumstances.
While services available to released offenders
ultimately may not need to be more intensive than
those available to other clients, mental health care
providers should be prepared to help these clients
meet challenges related to the transition to commu-

nity life. Treatment and rehabilitative models such
as Assertive Community Treatment should be employed when appropriate to monitor the client’s transition and address problems that could lead to rearrest and incarceration (see Policy Statement 35:
Evidence-Based Practices, for more on Assertive
Community Treatment). Special attention should
be given from the outset to provision of rehabilitative services that will both address specific needs
and help establish a routine for the released offender
attempting to grow accustomed to new freedom.
Mental health providers have both an opportunity and an obligation when an offender with mental illness is released from prison. The opportunity
arises from the fact that, unlike those people with
mental illness with no prior criminal justice contact
who seek services, released offenders with mental
illness will have treatment histories and may have
additional incentives to engage in care. Their criminal histories and service provision while incarcer-

ated are relevant to the mental health system in
effectively designing an individual treatment plan.
Whether an offender will be supervised in the community or released unconditionally, communication
between the systems is key. (See Policy Statement
20: Release Decision and Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition Plan.)
It is the providers’ obligation to seize the opportunity and to provide the services needed to ensure that the released offender does not return to
the criminal justice system because services were
not available, accessible, or effective. For mental
health service providers to meet their obligation to
people with mental illness who are leaving prison,
sufficient resources must be made available to fund
effective services and programs. Success in this
endeavor should result in a reduction in demand
for crisis services as well as in recidivism and the
resultant drain on criminal justice resources. . (See
Policy Statement 1: Involvement with the Mental
Health System.)

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Develop mechanisms to engage ex-offenders with mental illness
who have been released to the community.

Systems need to be in place to allow mental health and social service providers to coordinate with correctional and law enforcement agencies prior to
and following the release of people with mental illness from correctional facilities. At a minimum, this means that community service agencies should be
informed of the impending release of prisoners with histories of treatment for
mental illness while in prison who will not be under community supervision.
Mental health service providers should then maintain records documenting contact and treatment subsequent to release. There is no reason for these records
to differ in form or content from the records kept on contacts with any community client.
Depending on the system configuration, a community reintegration program may require considerable spanning of both jurisdictional and systemic
boundaries. Incentives should be created for the community providers to do
“inreach” to the correctional setting and begin the process prior to release. Exoffender contact information following release should be explicitly defined and

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 181

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 23: Maintaining Contact Between Individual and
Mental Health System

a mechanism should be developed for locating individuals who do not keep their
first scheduled appointment.
The “moment of release” from prison is often a crucial juncture in an
offender’s transition back to life in the community. This is especially true for
offenders with mental illness; it is important that these individuals are connected as seamlessly as possible with housing and services. Mental health
providers should be aware of the importance of the period immediately following a prisoner’s release and work with corrections officials to develop transition
plans, even for individuals who will not be under community supervision, that
provide detailed strategies for the first days after a prisoner’s release. Responsibility to assume care of the individual between the time of release and the
first outpatient appointment must be explicit. This initial period of reintegration provides an opportunity for the mental health system to engage former
prisoners from day one. (See Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition
Plan.)

b

Develop programs to provide appropriate levels of service and
supports to ex-offenders with mental illness who have re-entered
the community.

Ex-offenders with mental illness return to the community burdened by a
double stigma. The problems posed by their criminal history and mental health
condition to finding housing and employment have already been discussed. More
subtly, their status as ex-offenders with histories of mental health treatment
can affect their social networks and family relationships as well, often leaving
them in the same social situation that led to their arrest in the first place.
People with mental illness emerging from prison also frequently report
particular discrimination on the part of the mental health service community.
In many instances, mental health providers are reluctant to take on the perceived risks associated with clients who have criminal histories, especially if
they include violence.35
It is important that programs be developed to meet the specific needs of
offenders with mental illness who are transitioning from prison to the community. Correctional settings have had the responsibility for screening and identification of mental health issues as well as for providing treatment while incarcerated. After those functions, the principle transition planning responsibility
is to establish linkages between the ex-offender and future community services.
Working partnerships among probation, parole, the courts, neighborhood businesses, community housing organizations, and service providers can provide

35. Erik Roskes and Richard Feldman, “A Collaborative
Community-Based Treatment Program for Offenders with
Mental Illness,” Psychiatric Services 50:1, 1999, pp. 161419.

182 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

opportunities for the released offender to participate in restorative and therapeutic activities and community service projects. Transition planning is equally
important for individuals who will not be under community supervision as it is
for those who will have some conditions placed on their release.
Programs serving released offenders need to develop a broad menu of services that can be matched to offender needs. The service array should include
attention to housing, health care, medications, case management, employment,
income supports and entitlements, food and clothing, transportation, and child
care. The result should be a community-based mental health service and support program that does not differ greatly from any intensely monitored community treatment program. If it is staffed by knowledgeable professionals and client-centered in its approach, it will best meet the needs of the released offenders
with mental illness it serves.
Mental health staff need to be prepared to work with individuals who have
been involved in the criminal justice system. This requires training that will
help to overcome the stigma attached to incarceration, address the special needs
of individuals who have been incarcerated, and promote appropriate coordination with criminal justice agencies. (See Policy Statement 31: Training for Mental
Health Professionals.)
Mental health service providers should also consider encouraging development of a system of peer support for ex-offenders with mental illness. Finding
that one is not alone in facing identifiable challenges associated with reentry
can itself be an important support for men and women with mental illness coming out of prison. Peer support of this nature provides a ready and accepting
social network, while those who have shared the experience can offer advice
and suggestions likely to be received positively by the reentering ex-offender.
(See Policy Statement 39: Consumer and Family Member Involvement, for
more on peer services.)

c

Develop an understanding of the factors leading to community reintegration success or failure for clients with mental illness who
have been released from prison.

Much is already known about the factors that affect a client’s chances of
establishing him or herself in the community upon release from prison. For
instance, many clients have an immediate need for income-assistance, so reestablishment of benefits is an important step to be addressed at the earliest
possible opportunity. Similarly, safe, affordable, permanent housing is closely
correlated with success in the community. For almost all persons with mental
illness leaving prison, addressing housing needs must be seen as a high priority.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 183

Chapter IV: Incarceration and Reentry

Policy Statement 23: Maintaining Contact Between Individual and
Mental Health System

Maintaining contact between the mental health system and individuals
who have entered it from prison also provides opportunities for other factors to
be more clearly understood. It is important for the community provider to understand the factors that led up to arrest. The planning of effective services
involves attention to these matters to ensure services are delivered that reduce
the likelihood of rearrest. Community providers must incorporate this understanding into an individualized treatment plan. The needs of a mother who has
been incarcerated for crimes directly related to substance abuse will necessarily differ from those of a young male imprisoned on a personal assault conviction. It is important for any service provider to systematically evaluate its approaches, and in this area especially it is necessary to build training curricula
on the experiences of those staff, clients, and families attempting to bridge the
worlds of prison and mental health. In a well-functioning system, recognition
of individual needs will come with experience, and responsiveness will thus
become more effective.
Example: Massachusetts Forensic Transition Program, Massachusetts
Department of Mental Health

Operated by the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH), the transition
program is a statewide initiative that assists DMH-eligible preadjudicated and convicted inmates. It provides tracking and release planning services. Program staff
collaborate with relevant departments, agencies, and vendors to facilitate the transition of ex-offenders with mental illness into communities across the state. They work
with inmates with mental illness in correctional facilities at least three months before
release to coordinate relevant psychosocial and criminal information for the transition
and treatment planning process after release. Staff also provide case coordination and
consultation to community providers for up to three months after release to address
any immediate obstacles to client community adjustment. The Forensic Transition
Program works with inmates who will be under community supervision as well as
those who have completed their sentence.36

By maintaining contact with recently released offenders with mental illness and providing effective services for them, community mental health providers demonstrate their willingness and ability to perform an important public
safety function.

36. Hartwell et al., pp. 73-81.

184 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 185

Part TWO:

Overarching Themes

CHAPTER V

Improving
Collaboration

P

eople with mental illness who have
become involved (or are at risk of
becoming involved) with the criminal justice system frequently have
multiple needs that can be addressed only through the collaborative efforts of
several agencies working within the constraints of
diverse systems. The failure of these systems to
connect effectively endangers lives, wastes money,
and threatens public safety—frustrating crime victims, consumers, family members, and communities in general.
For these reasons, the policy statements and
implementation recommendations in this report
stress repeatedly the importance of agencies, departments, and organizations working together,
across systems. In fact, many of the policy statements do not address a criminal justice or mental
health entity exclusively, but straddle the two systems, requiring the systems to respond jointly.
This report recognizes at the outset that an
essential first step toward implementing any of the
policy statements is to develop some degree of cooperation among stakeholders in the criminal jus-

tice and mental health systems. (See the section of
the report’s Introduction entitled “Getting Started,”
which explores this point in detail.) But cooperation—such as getting people to the table to define
the problem and identify shared goals— is only a
first step toward collaboration. Stakeholders need
to get beyond informal handshake agreements
largely dependent on personalities and unlikely to
survive staff turnover or changes in leadership. To
ensure the lasting, systemic change that this report contemplates, criminal justice and mental
health policymakers will need to improve upon initial cooperative efforts, begin to collaborate, and,
ultimately, enter into partnerships.1
The impetus for collaboration can come from
a variety of sources. 2 Sometimes, it is a tragedy
involving an individual with mental illness that
forces representatives of the criminal justice and
mental health systems to recognize the need for
working together more closely. This was the case
in Seminole County, Florida, where a tragic shooting of a deputy by an individual with mental illness sparked cooperation among various stakeholders, which in turn prompted the creation of a task

1. Coalition-building experts stress the differences between coordination, cooperation, and collaboration, which reflect distinct degrees of commitment. In practice,
however, these terms are used almost interchangeably. This report places a premium on partnerships, while recognizing the oftentimes difficult-to-distinguish dif-

ferences among coordination, cooperation, and collaboration.

188 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

2. A useful discussion of the elements of good coalition building, especially as
they relate to the integration of criminal justice, mental health, and substance abuse
systems, is provided in The Courage to Change: Communities to Create Integrated

force designed to improve system coordination.
Legislatures can also be extremely powerful
in encouraging improved collaboration to address
the issue of individuals with mental illness in the
criminal justice system. In 1998, the California Legislature established the Mentally Ill Offender Crime
Reduction Grant (MIOCRG) Program. The program provided $50.6 million in grant monies for
demonstration projects in 15 different counties that,
collectively, target approximately 12,500 offenders
with mental illness.3 To be eligible for a demonstration grant, the legislation requires counties to
establish a Strategy Committee comprising criminal justice and mental health stakeholders.
At the local level, the success of cross-system
collaboration often depends on strong leadership
from high-ranking officials in both the criminal justice and mental health systems. These individuals can bring participants to the table, deal with
conflicts that arise, and generally ensure that the
partnership can overcome the inherent difficulties
attendant to cross-system collaboration. One example of numerous such collaborative efforts is the
Mental Health Coordinating Council in Travis

County, Texas. The Coordinating Council is headed
by the probate judge and includes representatives
from the local mental health agency, emergency
services, the sheriff ’s office, the police department,
the county attorney’s office, social workers, consumer advocacy groups, the state hospital and others. The council meets once monthly to address
issues of common concern to the participants. The
probate judge develops meeting agendas, facilitates
the meetings, mediates conflicts, and helps clarify
legal issues.4
This report is replete with numerous, inspiring cases of stakeholders collaborating closely,
across systems, and forming successful partnerships. In these cases, the stakeholders have cleared
initial barriers to cooperation and coalition building, which are addressed in the introduction to this
report. Furthermore, they have addressed three
key issues, reviewed in this section, to ensure the
long-term viability of the collaboration: obtaining
and managing the resources to sustain the initiative; establishing guidelines for information sharing; and institutionalizing the partnership.

Services for People with Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System, National
GAINS Center for People with Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System, December 1999.

Program: Annual Report, June 2000, available at www.bdcorr.ca.gov/cppd/miocrg/
miocrg_publications/miocrg_publications.htm.

3. California Board of Corrections, Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant

4. Barbara Misle, assistant county attorney, Mental Health Division, Travis County,
Texas, interview, April 18, 2002.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 189

Chapter V: Improving Collaboration

24

Policy Statement 24: Obtaining and Sharing Resources

Obtaining and Sharing Resources
POLICY STATEMENT # 24

Determine how the partners will make resources available to respond
jointly to the problem identified.

An essential first step for communities or states
interested in addressing mental health issues as
they relate to the criminal justice system is to bring
prospective partners to the table, define the problem, and establish which individuals will shepherd
the partnership. After these issues have been resolved, however, numerous decisions remain before

the partnership can be launched. What will be the
costs (both direct and in-kind) of operating this joint
venture? Where will these resources come from?
How will they be administered? The following recommendations serve as a guide to agents of change
struggling with these questions.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Identify the number of clients whom the prospective partners, under the current system, are serving in parallel systems and determine the nature of this overlap.

Before the partners can develop a budget describing the costs of the joint
venture, they will need to identify the number of people they will target and the
needs of those individuals. To that end, they should analyze how their clientele
overlap and then quantify that overlap. For example, the courts may work with
the local mental health centers to identify a number of jail detainees who meet
criteria for pretrial release and, prior to being charged, were receiving mental
health services in the community.
Example: Department of Community and Human Services, Crisis and
Engagement Services, Mental Health, Chemical Abuse and Dependency
Services Division, King County (WA)

In an effort to lay the groundwork for collaboration between different service agencies,
officials in King County collected data concerning the overlap between high utilizers of

190 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

substance abuse and mental health services and the jail population. By facilitating
the cross-referencing of information between separate databases (with the appropriate
protections for the privacy of identifying information), the Division of Crisis and
Engagement Services discovered that, in fact, many of the individuals who were spending
considerable time in substance abuse and mental health treatment facilities had also
been arrested and incarcerated in the county jail multiple times. Though these individuals seemed to be benefiting very little from their involvement in these services,
the cost of providing those services was high—approximately $1.1 million for 20
individuals. Gathering this data helped officials throughout the mental health and
criminal justice systems in King County to better understand their shared clientele
and helped spur improved collaboration there.

b

Share resources among organizations to ensure an effective and
efficient response.

"I believe there must be
alignment between the
mental health community,
law enforcement, the
courts, and corrections if
we are to have any ability
to deal with this ever spiraling issue of mental
illness in our communities. Collaboration at the
local level can only enhance problem solving."
SHERIFF DAN
CORSENTINO
Pueblo, CO
Source: Personal

Obtaining new dollars to support a partnership is difficult. Even when
jurisdictions are successful in securing appropriations or a grant, this funding
assistance is unlikely to cover all of the costs associated with the initiative.
Accordingly, the partnering organizations will need to review their existing resources to determine how they can be shared or shifted to make the partnership work. In many cases, staff, space, equipment, or expertise donated by one
or more of the partnering organizations is as good (if not better) than a contribution of actual dollars.

correspondence

Example: King County (WA)

Partners in King County, Washington, each made considerable in-kind contributions to
make their joint effort to develop a prebooking diversion program work. The Seattle
Police Department, without new staff or resources, identified more than 100 volunteers from the existing ranks of the police force, who agreed to receive 40 hours of
specialized training regarding people with mental illness, drug and alcohol problems,
and developmental disabilities. Representatives of the treatment systems, consumers, and family members conducted the training, donating their time. For its part, the
King County Hospital provided the space and part of the staffing required to reconfigure
an existing psychiatric emergency room into a Crisis Triage Unit capable of managing
pre-booking diversion referrals made by police officers.5

c

Shift savings generated by the new response—or a related initiative—to the partnering organization in need of additional resources.

When the criminal justice and mental health stakeholders begin to implement a joint response to a segment of the population with mental illness in
contact with the criminal justice system, the new approach is likely to generate

5. See “Creating Integrated Service Systems for People
with Co-Occurring Disorders Diverted from the Criminal
Justice System: The King County Experience,” The Na-

tional GAINS Center for People with Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System, Summer 2000.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 191

Chapter V: Improving Collaboration

Policy Statement 24: Obtaining and Sharing Resources

some costs savings for the criminal justice partner. For example, a small study
of 46 participants in Project Link in Monroe County, New York, found that the
partnership among various mental health organizations in the county and county
government officials reduced the mean number of jail days per month for the
program participants from 9.1 to 2.1 and the mean number of hospital days per
month from 8.3 to 3. Based on per diem costs, this translates to a savings of
more than $23,000 in jail costs and more than $155,000 in hospital costs for the
46 program participants.6
Partners should work together (ideally, before the costs savings are even
realized) to redirect the resources saved to the organization or agency assuming the expense incurred by absorbing the additional clients. Moving fund balances to different state or county agencies is usually complex, and it often requires the involvement of a state budget authority and the legislature.
Example: Connecticut Jail Diversion Project

In Connecticut, in 2000, the General Assembly authorized the statewide replication of
a successful jail diversion pilot program based in New Haven. To provide the state
mental health agency with the resources necessary to expand the program, legislators
worked with the state corrections department (which also operates all facilities in the
state that house pretrial detainees), whose commissioner recognized that the expansion of the program would save a number of corrections beds and thus save the
agency money.7 The General Assembly, with the consent of the corrections commissioner, effected the shift of approximately $3.1 million from the corrections budget
into the state mental health agency’s budget.8

Partners may also decide to apply savings generated by another initiative
to an effort regarding people with mental illness in contact with the criminal
justice system.
Example: King County (WA)

In King County, Washington, partners used savings generated from the managed care
system to fund the diversion programs they developed. The managed care system,
when held accountable to its stated goal of promoting increased client choice and
individualized and tailored care, can support jail diversion efforts. System integration
advocates argued that a portion of the systems savings (“fund balance”) generated by
the managed care model could be reinvested in services targeting those for whom the
managed care paradigm worked least well—including people with co-occurring disorders involved in the justice system. This meant that fund balance dollars produced by
the managed care process could be applied to supplementing the staffing needed to
create the hospital’s Crisis Triage Unit and the mental health court.

For services provided to custodial parents who qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) cash assistance or TANF-funded services,
this entitlement may be an important resource. Generally speaking, TANFfunded services are more readily available than cash benefits, especially when
6. “Prevention of Jail and Hospital Recidivism Among
Persons With Severe Mental Illness: Project Link, Department of Psychiatry, University of Rochester, Rochester, New
York,” Psychiatric Services 50:11, November 1999, pp.
1477-80.

7. In fact, the state corrections system was so short on
bed space that they contracted with the Commonwealth of
Virginia to house 500 inmates in that state.
8. Ellen Webber, director of the Connecticut Jail Diversion
Project, interview, March 16, 2002.

192 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

the eligible recipient is or recently has been incarcerated. Tapping TANF funds
facilitates state and local government officials’ efforts to make services such as
case management, vocational rehabilitation, mental health and substance abuse
counseling, and job training, search, and placement services available. Indeed,
TANF funds have the potential to ease a financial burden for corrections budgets while putting little new strain on the mental health service budget.9

d

Identify one of the partnering organizations—or establish a new
entity—to serve as the locus for grants, new appropriations, and
other resources contributed to the partnership.

Deciding which of the partnering organizations will be the recipient of a
new appropriation or the share of a grant can be a thorny and divisive process.
In some cases, it may make sense for the partners to establish an independent,
not-for-profit organization, with representatives from each of the partnering
organizations would help to govern, to receive and administer these funds.
Example: PERT, Inc., San Diego County (CA)

In San Diego County, in 1993, mental health and law enforcement professionals, consumers, and family members of consumers established a task force in response to
several high-profile shootings of individuals with mental illness. The task force developed a series of Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams (PERT) to improve the
response of the criminal justice system to individuals with mental illness. County and
state agencies agreed to fund part of the initiative with a portion of the jurisdictions’
share of federal block grant that the Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration administers. Members of the task force could not agree on which organization should receive the grant, so they formed an independent organization: “PERT,
Inc.” PERT, Inc. supervises the PERT staff and coordinates billing for services rendered. The board for PERT, Inc. is made up in part by NAMI board members and
board members from the Community Research Foundation, the largest private, nonprofit mental health service provider in the county.

9. See Getting to Work: How TANF Can Support Ex-Offender Parents in the Transition to Self-Sufficiency, Legal
Action Center, Washington, D.C., April 2001; and Finding
the Key, Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, March 2001.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 193

Chapter V: Improving Collaboration

25

Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information

Sharing Information
POLICY STATEMENT #25

Develop protocols to ensure that criminal justice and mental health
partners share mental health information without infringing on individuals’ civil liberties.

Appropriate information sharing between mental health and criminal justice systems ensures that
criminal justice officials make informed decisions
regarding a defendant or offender and that providers meet the treatment needs of people with mental
illness in the criminal justice system. Nevertheless,
line staff and policymakers alike often cite information-sharing restrictions as one of the biggest barriers to collaboration between mental health and
criminal justice system officials. Mental health professionals have legal and ethical obligations not to
divulge clinical information without consent, unless
certain conditions apply, including imposition of a
judge’s order. Law enforcement officers and prosecutors concerned about safety issues, judges who
must make informed pretrial release and sentencing decisions, and corrections officers charged with
maintaining safe institutions and providing consti-

194 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

tutionally adequate levels of care are all looking for
information that will help them in their duties.
In fact, maintaining appropriate confidentiality of a person’s mental health records, delivering
effective mental health services, and ensuring the
safety of the community and the victim are consistent goals. Moreover, partnerships exist in many
jurisdictions in which officials have overcome traditional barriers to information sharing without endangering public safety, violating the ethics of providers, or invading the privacy of the individual.
Policy statements appearing elsewhere in this
report include specific recommendations that explain how information can be shared appropriately
within certain contexts. The recommendations below should serve as general guidelines regarding
information sharing.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Ensure that mental health clinicians, law enforcement personnel,
officers of the courts, and jail and corrections staff are familiar
with and abide by state and federal law and regulations governing
the transfer of mental health records and information.

The laws of every state contain provisions that govern how mental health
practitioners may share clinical information. While the statutes are not entirely consistent across state boundaries, they generally call for the patient to
provide written consent if information is to be shared beyond the immediate
clinical team currently providing services. Mental health providers are generally trained to take a conservative approach to information sharing, and for
reasons tied to both ethics and liability many are reluctant to share clinical
information without consent. Indeed, licenses for some mental health professions can be revoked if confidentiality rules are not observed. In some states,
restrictions on the sharing of clinical information apply even when the patient
is moving from one treatment setting to another. In most states provisions exist
that allow for information to be shared in a health care emergency. Some states
have specific provisions for sharing information with a law enforcement officer
or agency if doing so, will benefit the patient.10
Federal statute and regulations also cover the transfer of information regarding treatment of someone for mental illness or a substance abuse disorder.
Federal statute governing information related to substance abuse treatment is
more ironclad than counterpart provisions covering mental illness treatment
records.11
Routine training for both mental health practitioners and criminal justice
staff should include familiarization with laws and regulations covering confidentiality and the transfer of medical information. If possible, criminal justice
and mental health trainers should find or create training sessions or other forums where issues of confidentiality and information transfer can be addressed
in one place by staff from both fields with the goal of reaching a common understanding of the applicable laws.
Additionally, mental health agencies and criminal justice entities should
examine internal polices to ensure that they reflect and encourage compliance
with relevant laws and regulations.

10. Indiana is an example of a state with such a statute.

"The criminal justice system and the local and
state mental health systems are not set up to
share information. They
are set up to protect an
individual's constitutional
and statutory rights. The
adversarial system currently in place is effective
in reaching resolution on
criminal cases. It is not a
very effective system in
resolving issues related to
mentally ill defendants."
HON. MICHAEL D.
SCHRUNK
District Attorney,
Multnomah County, OR

11. See (42 U.S.Code §290dd-2).

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 195

Chapter V: Improving Collaboration

b

Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information

Obtain an individual’s specific, written consent before a mental
health agency or provider shares his or her information with criminal justice personnel, except when federal or state law (or a judicial order) supercedes.

Deeply ingrained in the training and ethical code of mental health providers is the principle that the individuals they treat have the right to determine
who is to know that they are in treatment and what that treatment consists of.
For this reason, the first option whenever there is a request for information or
reason for information to be shared is to ask the patient to provide consent. In
the majority of cases, individuals will sign a form they understand will help
them receive needed or continued treatment. Even in instances where the law
does not strictly require providers to obtain consent from a client for information to be transferred, the exercise can be an important way of demonstrating
goodwill and building trust between providers and between the provider and
the patient.12
Written consent should be drafted in a way that indicates the purposes for
which the requested information may be used, the period for which consent is
valid, and with whom it may be shared. (See Policy Statement 7: Appointment
of Counsel for more on the role of defense counsel in obtaining consent.)

c

Limit access to mental health databases to authorized mental
health personnel; provide information about an individual’s mental
health status and treatment on a case-by-case basis only.

In view of the confidentiality statutes and ethical standards already mentioned, and recognizing the limitations of most mental health system databases,
access to them should be limited. Mental health staff should be the only personnel to access information maintained in mental health databases. Protocols
should be put in place to ensure that information provided to clinical staff is
kept confidential.
By the same token, mental health staff should not present unreasonable
roadblocks to information flow that can help law enforcement, courts, and corrections officials make informed decisions about individuals in their custody. If
possible, they should set up protocols that can enable an appropriate flow of
information to law enforcement, detention, and other criminal justice personnel while preserving the confidentiality and right to privacy of individuals in
the system.
Mental health systems in this country maintain databases for a variety of
reasons. Some may hold clinical treatment information; many more are main-

12. At the same time, providers and criminal justice
officials should exercise good judgment. In situations where
consent is not required, there is no point in seeking it from
someone who is not likely to provide it.

196 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

tained exclusively for billing purposes. It should be noted that, currently, few
databases can be counted on to provide comprehensive information about the
individuals treated in the system. The information usually sought by law enforcement and jail officials, however, can be obtained by development of alternative protocols or practices. (See Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility.)

d

Ensure that mental health information shared is the minimum
needed to address the intended recipient’s needs.

The nature of information that can be shared may be governed by state
statute. In some places it may be limited to diagnosis, admission to or discharge
from a treatment facility, and the name of any medication prescribed. For many
purposes, this limited information may suffice. On the other hand, there may
well be instances in which more information would be appropriate and helpful
in developing treatment plans for individuals whose needs are not immediately
apparent or who have complex histories with a bearing on future treatment
decisions.

e

Ensure that information shared for the purpose of arranging appropriate treatment not be used to jeopardize a person’s rights in
criminal proceedings.

Information intended to help police or jail officials arrange for appropriate
treatment for an individual with mental illness who has been arrested or is in
custody may prove harmful if utilized by a prosecutor in criminal proceedings.
It is not always in the best interests of an individual for his or her mental
illness diagnosis to be generally known. While mental illness may be an obvious factor in many cases, it may not come to the fore immediately in others. In
such cases, only the individual (and counsel) should determine whether it is
appropriate to bring the fact of mental illness into the case.

f

Encourage consumers to engage in advance planning that includes
consent for mental health providers to share specified information
with criminal justice authorities if necessary.

One promising mechanism for allowing a consumer to decide whether and
how much information should be divulged is through some form of advance
planning. Some consumers now write psychiatric advance directives to govern

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 197

Chapter V: Improving Collaboration

Policy Statement 25: Sharing Information

their care when they become incompetent or when they are involuntarily hospitalized. A more practical alternative for mental health/criminal justice partnerships is a specific form of advance planning relating to any future contacts
with the criminal justice system. Individuals who have had previous contact
with the law or individuals whose behaviors put them at significant risk should
be offered the opportunity through the mental health system to indicate consent for sharing of certain information. Especially important is the sharing of
the name of their case manager or other provider who, once notified, can follow
up to ensure appropriate clinical treatment is furnished following the incident.

g

Eliminate any reference to the identity of the person with mental
illness when turning over information for research purposes or for
systemic assessments of criminal justice systems.

There is no need for information collected and used for the purposes of
research or data collected to assess the effectiveness of systems to retain identifying information. Data such as name, address, phone number, birth date,
social security number, and other information that clearly points to the specific
individual should be redacted before such databases are compiled or before
mental health system information is shared within criminal justice systems. If
the particular analysis to be conducted does require such identifiers, there must
be procedures in place to keep these confidential and thus they should be stripped
from the analysis and aggregate reports that are eventually prepared and circulated.

h

Criminal justice authorities should share information (with consent) with the mental health system in order to facilitate appropriate and quick follow-up services from mental health upon release.

As recommended elsewhere in this document, correctional facilities should
engage inmates in pre-release planning, which should include a discussion of
the necessity of sharing clinical information with community providers in order
to ensure continuity of care. Consent should then be readily obtainable and
either a detailed summary or a complete clinical record can be transferred to
the appropriate community mental health program. As in other information
sharing situations, information shared should be the minimum necessary for
the purpose at hand. (See Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition Plan.)

198 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 199

Chapter V: Improving Collaboration

26

Policy Statement 26: Institutionalizing the Partnership

Institutionalizing the Partnership
POLICY STATEMENT #26

Institutionalize the partnership to ensure it can sustain changes in
leadership or personnel.

Successful partnerships depend on collaboration between individuals. Over time, officials in
mental health and criminal justice agencies may
develop exemplary working relationships that lead
to improved collaboration and better service to individuals with mental illness. It is crucial, however,
that the leaders of collaborative efforts make an ef-

fort to institutionalize their partnership, ensuring
its longevity beyond their own tenure. The following recommendations suggest some steps that can
be taken to ensure the endurance of collaborative
efforts between the criminal justice and mental
health system partners.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Charge an individual with maintaining the vision of the collaborative effort and managing on a day-to-day basis communication
among staff working for each of the various collaborating organizations.

Interactions among separate organizations—each with its own goals, policies, jargon, and organizational structures—tend to be extremely complicated.
Successful collaboration often requires communication between multiple individuals across organizational lines. Many successful partnerships can be traced
to the establishment of a position, sometimes referred to as a “boundary spanner” position, whose responsibility it is to be the traffic cop for the various people
responsible for managing this communication on a day-to-day basis.
The organization employing the boundary spanner often depends on a variety of factors, such as local politics, history, economics, and personalities in
each community. Nevertheless, researchers have found some common aspects

200 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

of successful boundary spanners. A clear conceptualization of the functions of a
boundary spanner position is often more important than the exact location of
the position. In addition, it is important to find experienced, well-respected
individuals to staff these positions; these individuals are often veteran staffers
who are familiar with the formal and informal norms of multiple systems. Boundary spanners should be well compensated and given a title that appreciates the
importance of their cross-systems work.13
Example: Court Monitor, Mental Health Court, King County (WA)

The court monitor in the King County Mental Health Court serves as the link between
the criminal justice and mental health systems. The court monitor first interviews
candidates for the Mental Health Court in an effort to understand the defendant’s
mental health issues. She then requests approval for the release of information from
the defendant and communicates with the case manager who handled the defendant’s
past treatment. Next, the court monitor prepares a report of the defendant’s history
and a proposed treatment plan to the court while explaining the workings of the court
to the defendant. Finally, the court monitor meets with the public defender and
prosecutor to discuss the case.14

b

Determine how to share responsibility for positive and negative
outcomes.

Partnerships are often severely tested when the joint initiative draws bad
publicity or suffers an unfortunate turn of events. For example, joint ventures
are typically dissolved (sometimes appropriately) when a program participant
commits a high-visibility crime. In other cases, a lawsuit involving a person
working on the initiative can threaten the sustainability of a partnership.
Partners should establish a plan, in advance, to respond to incidents that
attract negative publicity in order to ensure that each does not simply engage
in finger-pointing. This plan should include an agreement on how to respond to
inquiries from the legislature, other state or local governing bodies, the media,
or attorneys representing a plaintiff.
Officials working together as part of a collaborative venture should develop a similar plan to respond to positive news trumpeting the success of an
initiative. In some cases, failing to share credit or to recognize the value of the
partnership publicly can be as destructive as an uncoordinated response to negative publicity.

13. Henry J. Steadman, “Boundary Spanners: A Key
Component for the Effective Interactions of the Justice and
Mental Health Systems,” Law and Human Behavior 16:1,
1992, pp. 75-86.

14. John S. Goldkamp and Cheryl Irons-Guynn, Emerging
Judicial Strategies for the Mentally Ill in the Criminal
Caseload: Mental Health Courts in Fort Lauderdale, Seattle,
San Bernadino, and Anchorage, Bureau of Justice Assistance, April 2000.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 201

Chapter V: Improving Collaboration

c

Policy Statement 26: Institutionalizing the Par tnership

Prepare contracts or memoranda of understanding defining the
terms of the partnership.

Documents that describe the nature and scope of collaboration between
distinct agencies or organizations can be crucial to solidifying a partnership.
Contracts or memoranda of understanding (MOU) also provide a guiding document to which partners can turn to resolve confusion or disagreement. The
structure of any such agreement will vary depending on the partners involved,
the goal and scope of the collaboration, local policies and regulations, and many
other jurisdiction-specific issues. Despite these necessary variations, certain
elements are consistent across such agreements, and criminal justice and mental health partners should consider referring to the following list when developing written agreements.
Elements of a successful memorandum of understanding:
“

Well-defined target population

“

Overarching purpose that underlies the agreement

“

Discussion of any relevant legislation or regulations

“

Elaboration of specific goals, both shared and germane to a particular
partner

“

Definition of any new responsibilities

“

Time lines for the implementation of new initiatives and for review of
the implementation process

“

Provision for the resolution of disputes

202 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 203

CHAPTER VI

Training Practitioners
and Policymakers and
Educating the
Community

T

he successful implementation of
many (if not all) of the policy statements in this report depends on
criminal justice staff who understand mental illness and the mental health system.
Similarly, failure by mental health professionals to
learn how the criminal justice system works in their
jurisdiction will undermine any efforts to build partnerships between the criminal justice and mental
health communities. While training is not a panacea—and even with the best education and guidance, criminal justice or mental health personnel
may not always know what the best course of action is—it can significantly improve services to
people with mental illness, their families, and the
community and reduce the stigma associated with
mental illness. For these reasons, training (and
cross-system training) must be a part of any comprehensive effort to improve the response to people
with mental illness who come into contact with the
criminal justice system.

204 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

In addition, because the involvement of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice
system is a problem that concerns the community
and requires solutions at the local level, it is incumbent upon criminal justice and mental health
stakeholders to educate the community about the
issue.
Every organization, at a minimum, should expect the following of any of their employees who
come into contact with a person with mental illness:
“

minimize the risk of injury or harm to the
responder, the community, and the person
with mental illness;

“

respect the individual and the rights of that
person;

“

be conscientious of responses most likely to
aggravate or improve the condition of the
person;

“

understand that a person with mental illness is no more likely to be violent than a
person without mental illness (except in
cases where a mental illness is accompanied by a co-occurring disorder); and

“

know, at least generally, the mental health
resources that are available to them.

Familiarizing practitioners with the above issues, while a huge accomplishment in and of itself,
is usually not sufficient to ensure the successful
implementation of a program that targets people
with mental illness. Whereas every good training
program ensures that all staff have a basic familiarity with mental illness, agencies differ considerably in their efforts to provide staff with the additional expertise needed to implement many of the
policy statements included in this report. Indeed,
many of the policy statements in this report contemplate extensive training that goes far beyond the
fundamentals described above. For example, a defense attorney needs specific skills to represent effectively a client who has a severe mental illness
and who is offered an opportunity to participate in
community-based supervision in lieu of incarceration.
In some jurisdictions, policymakers insist that
all personnel have some elements of a sophisticated

understanding of mental illness and appropriate
responses. In other agencies, officials identify only
a special cadre of staff to receive highly specialized
training. In smaller jurisdictions, including most
of those in rural areas, the size of the police agency
and jail and court staff is so small that it is more
likely that training and experience will be gained
in less structured or specialized formats. The policy
statements in this section of the report recognize
that approaches to ensuring that staff have a sufficient set of skills, background, and general degree
of competence must vary accordingly.
At the same time, the recommendations for
implementation of the policy statements vary according to the criminal justice audience (i.e., law
enforcement, courts, and corrections). For example,
sworn staff in large police departments or state
prison systems typically are required to participate
in extensive annual in-service training programs.
On the other hand, training for judges, prosecutors, or defense attorneys is less routine; there are
fewer opportunities available to incorporate mental health issues into existing training programs.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 205

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Paying for Training

That said, there remain several common elements of an initiative to improve practitioners’ skills in responding to people with mental illness. The policy
statements are organized according to these elements:
“

Training goals and objectives

“

Training curriculum

“

Trainers

“

Evaluation of training

One theme that is apparent in nearly every training initiative that addresses mental health issues as they relate to the criminal justice system is the
need for practitioners to be educated about the missions, procedures, and policies of the systems with which they collaborate. The mental health treatment
system and the various parts of the criminal justice system have different—
sometimes even contradictory—goals and methods. For example, treatment
providers and parole officers may view very differently a consumer’s incomplete adherence to a treatment plan, such as missing counseling sessions.
Whereas many treatment providers view such setbacks as part of the recovery
process, a parole officer may view a temporary lapse in treatment as grounds
for violation and reincarceration. Cross-training efforts, in which members of
different criminal justice and mental health agencies educate one another about
the basic premises and objectives of their various systems, is crucial to helping
bridge these gaps that may stifle successful collaboration.
When designing and implementing training, agencies should be cognizant
of local, state, and federal standards. A curriculum that has been successful in
one state may not be effective in another due to different laws, standards, and
requirements. In Oklahoma, for example, police academy training is state-run
and individual agencies do not have control over the training mandated for new
recruits. Additionally, commitment laws may vary drastically from one state to
another. In Florida, under the Baker Act, only certain facilities are designated
for people with mental illness whom officers believe are a danger to themselves
or to others.1
Recognizing the value of training while acknowledging the expense of providing this service, this section of the report suggests in numerous places how
jurisdictions can minimize the expense of training by tapping existing resources
in the community or government. Stakeholders should also recognize the value
of informal training, often known as experience exchange. For example, a ridealong program that exposes mental health service providers to the daily experiences of a police officer is not costly, except in terms of staff time, but is instrumental to improving collaboration and trust across systems. The same is true
for training programs that allow criminal justice personnel to visit mental health
crisis centers or community mental health facilities.
1. The Florida Mental Health Act, a comprehensive revision of the state’s mental health commitment laws, is
widely referred to as the Baker Act, in honor of the bill’s
sponsor, State Representative Maxine Baker. The Baker Act

was passed in 1971 and has been amended several times
since. In 1996 the act underwent a major reform, which
included increased protections for individuals in the commitment system, strengthened consent and guardianship

206 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Training, in and of itself, can be
an expensive undertaking. Many
agencies or departments already
have extensive training programs
in place. Expanding training topics to include mental health issues (or to improve the thoroughness with which mental health
issues are addressed) increases
further the time staff are not at
their posts or in court. This, in
turn,
can
increase
an
organization’s overtime costs or
relief factor. There are other expenses beyond the staff costs:
trainers, training facilities, and
written materials, to name a few.
Despite these costs, many city,
county, or state agencies simply
cannot afford to refrain further
from training their staff on these
issues. Effective training can have
a dramatic impact on the number
of injuries, and deaths, that staff
untrained to respond to a person
with mental illness sustain. Such
incidents generate high costs—
both directly (overtime, compensatory time, lawsuits) and indirectly (community trust).
Nowhere in the country have such
impacts of training been touted
as impressively as in Memphis,
Tennessee where the police
department’s pioneering work
training officers to serve on crisis intervention teams reduced
dramatically staff injuries and use
of lethal force incidents. 2

Although the discussion in this section of training curricula for various
criminal justice and mental health constituencies recommends numerous topics that should be included in effective training, it is by no means an exhaustive
description. It is important for every community to evaluate its own needs and
resources when determining what information should be included to improve
the response to people with mental illness who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

"Money for training should
be on top of the priority
list. Without training, we
cannot implement the
recommendations in this
report."
SENATOR
LINDA BERGLIN
Chair, Health, Human,
Services & Corrections
Budget Committee, MN
Source: Interview, 11 January,

2002, Washington, DC.

provisions, and provided for significant record keeping regarding commitment proceedings. Annual reports regarding the implementation of the 1996 reforms are available
at: www.fmhi.usf.edu/institute/pubs/pdf/abstracts/
bakeract.html.

2. Randolph Dupont, “How the Crisis Intervention Team
Model Enhances Policing and Community Mental Health,”
Community Mental Health Report, November/December
2001.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 207

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

27

Policy Statement 27: Determining Training Goals and Objectives

Determining Training Goals and Objectives
POLICY STATEMENT #27

Determine training goals and objectives and tap expertise in both the
criminal justice and mental health systems to inform these decisions.

The goals, development, and administration of
a training program will vary considerably depending upon the audience. Across the criminal justice
and mental health systems there are numerous discrete training audiences—police officers, corrections
officers, prosecutors, community members, mental
health practitioners, and many more. Even within
the distinct parts of the criminal justice system, such
as the court, training audiences, and thus goals, will
differ; training programs for public defenders, prosecutors, and judges will all be unique.
Training is such a cornerstone for most criminal justice organizations that these agencies typi-

cally have an individual—or sometimes an entire
division—responsible for administering the training
programs within the agency. Although these officials will play a key role in implementing the recommendations described below, it is important that they
tap the expertise of mental health experts to develop
training curricula that deals with mental illness.
Similarly, officials responsible for training mental
health practitioners will need to reach out to criminal justice professionals when preparing training
materials regarding the operation of the criminal
justice system and the delivery of services to people
who have been involved with the criminal justice
system.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Identify the training audience.

Criminal justice practitioners have often observed that a generic training
program intended for anyone working in the criminal justice system is of little
value. For example, when a generic training program discusses people with
mental illness in the community, correctional officers are likely to view the
material as largely irrelevant.
Various authorities could prompt a training initiative by singling out a
particular segment of personnel in the criminal justice or mental health systems who should develop an improved understanding of issues concerning mental
health and the criminal justice system. For example, the chief executive of a
department or agency may decide that his or her entire department, or a particular subset of the organization, needs training. A corrections commissioner
may choose to require certain staff, such as those responsible for intake mental

208 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

health screening, to receive more intensive and specialized mental health training, in addition to the pre-service and in-service training provided to all uniformed staff. In other cases, an internal curriculum development committee
may arrive independently at that same decision. In still other jurisdictions, a
cross-system coalition, task force, or some other body that reflects a partnership among various stakeholders in the criminal justice and mental health systems may determine that a particular constituency needs training.
Small, rural communities, which often do not have the resources to develop
and implement training initiatives for one constituency within the criminal justice system, should consider coordinating with neighboring jurisdictions. For
example, it may be only be feasible to train probation officers in a small rural
county if probation officials in neighboring communities agree to include their
staff among the trainees and supply resources to make the training possible.
Training criminal justice or mental health personnel alone is not sufficient to implement many of the recommendations in this report. Indeed, prospective training audiences should be expanded to include nontraditional audiences; educating consumers, their families, victim advocates, public
policymakers, and even the public at large, is essential. For example, family
members and friends of people with mental illness should be educated about
the type and amount of information they should convey to dispatchers when
making a call for police service and how to encourage a loved one who is incarcerated to seek treatment. Victim advocates need to be in a position to explain
simply but thoughtfully to crime victims the conditions of release imposed on a
probationer or parolee with mental illness.

b

Develop a training committee or task force to focus on the issue of
people who have mental illness and are involved in the criminal
justice system or at high risk for such involvement.

A committee or task force can broaden the knowledge base of the individuals involved in guiding training for a particular department or system. It also
provides a mechanism through which criminal justice agencies and mental health
practitioners, consumers, family members, and other stakeholders can collaborate to educate personnel in various departments.
The chief executive of the criminal justice agencies (e.g., police chief executive, sheriff, director of public safety, presiding judge, court administrator, jail
administrator, corrections director), whose employees may be the primary target audience for the training, should oversee the formation of the task force, in
consultation with the corresponding mental health authority. This level of involvement from top-ranking decision makers conveys to all subordinate staff
the importance and value of the training program. It also helps to ensure that,
ultimately, the person or division within an agency charged with coordinating
training activities will likely be responsible for administering any training initiative that is developed by a cross-system task force.
A task force should have diverse membership that includes representatives of other criminal justice agencies, departments, state and local mental

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 209

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 27: Determining Training Goals and Objectives

health agencies, and mental health service providers to identify or tap resources
(e.g., facilities, training materials, trainers) that might not otherwise be available to the initiative. Given the different situations faced by jurisdictions, the
precise number and type of task force members will vary locally. Critical stakeholders for training development can include representatives from law enforcement, the judiciary, prosecution, defense, pretrial services, probation, mental
health prosecutors, community mental health professionals, substance abuse
treatment providers, family members, victim advocates, consumers (especially
those who have been incarcerated), and corrections personnel.
Example: Forensic Intervention Consortium, Albuquerque (NM)

This interagency partnership resolves issues and barriers that people with mental
illness face who become, or are at risk of becoming, involved in the criminal justice
system. The consortium unites consumers, their family members, representatives of
law enforcement and judicial agencies, treatment providers, advocates, and other
representatives from the community. The consortium supports The Albuquerque Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), and CIT members are trained by consumers, family
members and mental health professionals on de-escalation techniques, assessing
consumer’s history, medication information and support systems, and the use of
pretrial services that are sensitive to consumer needs.
Example: Mental Health Task Force, Fort Lauderdale (FL)

Established in 1994, this task force brings together community leaders from the criminal justice, mental health, and law enforcement communities to tackle concerns regarding the treatment, management, and community placements of defendants with
mental illness. As a result of the task force’s success, a mental health court was
established in Broward County, Florida, to address the needs of people with mental
illness. The role of the task force was expanded in 1997 to create five subgroups
(consisting of representatives from law enforcement, criminal justice, and mental
health) that identify solutions to various obstacles facing people with mental illness in
the criminal justice system. The subgroups’ objectives are the integration of community-based mental health systems into the criminal justice system, and the appropriate diversion of consumers from arrest and incarceration.

c

Determine training goals and objectives.

Before the training committee can begin developing the training curriculum and identifying trainers, members must determine what outcomes they
expect from the training. For example, the goal may be to implement a particular policy statement in this report, or it may be more general, such as reducing
the stigma associated with mental illness or reducing the number of police referrals to detention that could more effectively be diverted to the mental health
system. Training goals should be based on improving awareness and developing particular competencies. Specific goals for different training audiences are
discussed in more depth in the subsequent policy statements and recommendations. One goal that should underlie any training initiative is to help criminal
justice and mental health personnel better understand the components and
methodologies of the different systems. This is especially important at the outset of an effort to improve collaboration between the two systems.

210 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

d

Evaluate existing training materials, identify gaps in the curricula,
and tap available resources to address these gaps.

The coordinators of a training initiative should determine what training
materials already exist in agency curricula to address the specified goals and
objectives, where deficiencies exist, and where additional community resources
can be brought to bear. Before developing training for their Crisis Intervention
Teams, for example, the Montgomery County, Maryland, Police Department
enlisted the help of NAMI to conduct a needs assessment. The assessment
helped the department identify areas in which training was needed and community resources that could assist with that process.
Once the agency has identified the gaps in its existing training, the committee should tap all available resources for developing the material. For example, agencies should solicit training materials from other agencies or programs. Materials that are obtained from other agencies should be tailored to
the unique needs of the jurisdiction. Jurisdictions should build on the successes of others and then, based on their own needs assessment, shape the
training. This should all be done in partnership with relevant stakeholders.
Example: Roanoke County (VA) Police Department

When the Roanoke County Police Department wanted to develop a CIT program, the
county sent a sergeant and a mental health practitioner to Albuquerque, New Mexico,
to observe their 40-hour training class. The team left with the PowerPoint® outline
and notes of the Albuquerque training. They presented these materials to the relevant
stakeholders in Roanoke and adapted it to the needs of their community.

Local colleges and universities often are an excellent resource in developing training programs for criminal justice and mental health personnel. Not
only do academic institutions frequently have experience with cross-training
strategies, but they also help to minimize the cost of implementing the training
initiative. In addition, the involvement of academic partners may prompt research projects and grant proposals, which can improve knowledge in the field
and bring attention to successful training and collaborative endeavors.
Substance abuse treatment programs that work with people arrested, detained, or incarcerated are likely to have experience developing cross-trainings.
Given the three-way overlap among issues of criminal justice, mental health,
and substance abuse, involving these programs is likely to greatly enrich the
training. Community mental health centers and other local partners, such as
board members of local advocacy groups like NAMI and mental health associations, also may be able to donate space for training, training materials, and
staff time.
Example: Seminole County (FL) Sheriff’s Department

When it became unfeasible for the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department to hold their
own 40-hour training course, deputies were sent to the Florida Regional Community
Policing Institute to participate in their training on responding to people with mental
illness.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 211

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

28

Policy Statement 28: Training for Law Enforcement Personnel

Training for Law Enforcement Personnel
POLICY STATEMENT # 28

Establish new skills, recruit, in-service, and advanced skills training
requirements for law enforcement personnel about responding to individuals with mental illness, and develop curricula accordingly.

tions and firearms qualifications; any new
department policies or procedures; and relevant legal updates. In-service requirements
differ in every state and requirements can
change annually depending on state and/or
local guidelines.

Training for law enforcement personnel is classified according to the period when training is received and the depth of the training provided. This
report uses the following terms to describe these
different levels of training:
“

“

“

New skills (basic) training. This training is often instituted at the outset of a new
departmental initiative to ensure that all
personnel have a basic level of knowledge
concerning mental illness. It is typically
provided when personnel have not received
any of the training listed below or if a department-wide refresher is warranted.
Recruit (pre-service/academy) training. Training required by police and sheriffs’ departments for new recruits at the
academy. Recruit training includes curricula
on criminal law, defensive tactics, conflict
management/crisis intervention training,
and many other topics. Content and length
of training offered varies in each jurisdiction depending on state and local guidelines.

“

Advanced skills (specialized) training.
Training provided, often to a select group of
staff, to prepare them to take part in a special departmental initiative. In the case of
mental illness, advanced training is generally offered to officers who will participate
on Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs) or other
specialized units responding to calls involving mental illness.

The following chart describes suggested training topics and suggested hours for different levels
of law enforcement training:3

In-service training. Annual training required by most jurisdictions of all officers.
Training topics can include orientation to the
agency’s role, purpose, goals, policies, and
procedures; working conditions and regula-

3. Many training topics in this chart are relevant for various levels of training. Accordingly, the depth in which these topics are covered will depend on the time and
purpose of the training. For example, a topic may be covered briefly in new-skills

212 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

training and covered in more depth during in-service refresher courses. It should be
remembered that training curricula for law enforcement personnel should be tailored
to be consonant with state and local mandates.

Training Topics for Law Enforcement Personnel*
New Skills
2 hours
A. UNDERSTANDING MENTAL ILLNESS
1. Who and where are people with mental illness
2. Differences between mental illness and developmental disabilities
3. Differences between mental illness and neurological disorders
(epilepsy, Alzheimer’s disease, Tourette’s syndrome, and autism)
4. What is mental illness? Specific mental illnesses
5. Common medications and side effects
6. Co-occurring disorders
7. Attitudes about mental illness (misconceptions, discrimination, and stigma)
8. Cultural and gender differences
B. STATUTORY INFLUENCES ON POLICE RESPONSES
1. Federal laws
a. Rehabilitation Act of 1973
b. Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) (1990)
c. Civil Rights Act (1983)
2. State and local statutes
Review of specific state statutes and local ordinances
Civil liability of police officers
3. Confidentiality issues
Confidentiality of medical information
Police report writing
Limits of information sharing
C. POLICE RESPONSE TO CALLS FOR SERVICE
1. On-scene assessment
a. Recognizing characteristics of impairments and crisis behavior
Signs and symptoms of mental illness—verbal and behavioral cues
Medical or situational causes of crisis behavior
b. Crisis intervention
De-escalation techniques/communication skills
Suicide prevention and other high-risk situations
Victim/witness assistance
2. Response Options
a. Noncustodial police options
Counseling, release and referral
Voluntary emergency evaluation and noncustodial transport
b. Partnerships with mental health resources
Working with community-based resources
Local hospital-based psychiatric and substance abuse services
NAMI and other advocacy organizations
Mobile Crisis Teams and community-based services and supports
3. Booking
a. Custodial police options
Arresting and interviewing suspect with mental illness
Involuntary emergency evaluation and custodial transport
Involuntary commitment orders and civil criteria
b. Police lockup
Suicide screening
Medications management
4. Follow-up

X

Recruit In-service
8-15 hours 20 hours

X
X

Advanced
40 hours

X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X

X
X

X
X
X

X

X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X

X
X

X

X
X

X
X
X
X

X

X
X
X
X

X

X
X
X

X
X

X
X
X

X

X

X

X

X
X
X

*Many of the same topics are suggested for each training type. There will be differences, however, in the detail provided. For example, in the basic training, participants would
be given only an overview of the topic, while the in-service or advanced training would be more in depth.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 213

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 28: Training for Law Enforcement Personnel

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Provide at least two hours of new skills training regarding mental
health issues to all law enforcement personnel who come into contact with people with mental illness.

In every jurisdiction, a lead training official or a training development committee is likely to identify law enforcement personnel who interact regularly
with people with mental illness but have received little or no meaningful training on this subject. These staff, who have already met their recruit training
requirements but are not prepared to take refresher courses during in-service
training sessions, need new skills training.4 Recipients of this training should
include call takers and dispatchers, front desk personnel, new hires, and patrol
officers, as well as some detectives, drug-enforcement officers or others. Depending on the size and needs of a particular jurisdiction, it may be necessary
to train additional personnel not covered in these categories, such as communications officers, or other civilian personnel.
New skills training should occur at the outset of any new departmental
initiative regarding mental illness. The first goal of this training is to teach
department personnel and affiliated staff to recognize signs of mental illness so
they can respond accordingly. The purpose of this training is not to enable
these line staff to be diagnosticians; rather, officers and staff should emerge
from this training capable of identifying observable behaviors that might point
to the existence of mental illness. Furthermore, officers should be encouraged
to consider how a potential mental illness may have contributed to an incident.
The second goal of this training is to teach officers and staff to stabilize
and de-escalate the situation, while conveying an attitude of respect for people
with mental illness and their families. They must understand relevant statutes and how to respond to not escalate the problem while a response is developed. By helping personnel to understand how they may inadvertently use
language or take actions that stigmatize mental illness, trainers can also teach
police personnel to change actions that may previously have been viewed as
disrespectful. To this end, the direct involvement of consumers and family members in this new skills training will help to emphasize destigmatization as a
training goal as well as the partnership between mental health personnel, advocates, and law enforcement personnel. The importance of partnerships can
develop from the start of an officer’s career. (See Policy Statement 33: Identifying Trainers, for more on incorporating consumers and family members into
training initiatives.)

4. It may be appropriate to provide new skills refresher
training even for staff that has received in-service training
about mental illness.

214 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"I want the first person
who touches me to be
educated."
JACKI MCKINNEY
National People of Colour
Consumer/ Survivor
Network
Source: Panel discussion, meet-

ing regarding mental health court
grant program, March 18, 2002,
Chicago, IL

Third, this orientation to mental health issues for personnel should teach
them the importance of getting the right assistance and referrals for those with
mental illness and victims of crime. Understanding local resources, their criteria for gaining access, and other sources of assistance will be of tremendous
benefit to personnel.

b

Incorporate at least eight (and as many as fifteen) hours of training in general mental health issues into existing recruit (academylevel) training programs for law enforcement staff.

Recruit training refers to the fundamentals taught to each new law enforcement officer (“recruits”). Regardless of educational level attained, all new
recruits are required to train in the academy before beginning service at a law
enforcement agency. (The duration of academy training for lateral transfers
will vary by state.) Academy-level training should incorporate at least eight
hours (and as many as fifteen) of training on general mental health issues.
These may be integrated into existing training modules. State mandates for
training and existing curricula differ across jurisdictions. Agencies will need to
tailor training models to their unique needs and requirements. 5 (See chart for
suggested training topics.)
Given the complex nature of many situations encountered by law enforcement officers, recruit training should touch on signs and symptoms of mental
illness, dual diagnosis of mental illness and drug/alcohol abuse, and related
issues. Again, although recruits cannot and should not be trained as diagnosticians, they must be trained to respond to a range of aberrant behavior, regardless of whether it can be attributed to mental illness, a medical disorder such as
epilepsy, drug abuse, or a combination of these factors. (See Policy Statement
4: On-Scene Response, for a more thorough discussion of people with co-occurring disorders, especially as they relate to law enforcement; also Policy Statement 37: Co-occurring Disorders.)
After finishing academy training, recruits (now considered “new hires”)
are assigned to work with more senior Field Training Officers (FTOs) before
beginning independent duty. Like all new employees, new officers are extremely
impressionable. FTOs are responsible for introducing the new officers to agency
culture and priorities. Additionally, the FTO may contribute to the new officer’s
patterns of behavior. For these reasons, it is important that among the issues
FTOs review, they understand the recruit mental health training to be able to
reinforce topics covered at the academy.
To complement pre-service training for recruits, law enforcement agencies
should make an effort to acquaint new hires with community members who

5. Agencies have different minimum educational requirements for new recruits ranging from a high school diploma,
to an associates degree to a bachelors degree. As a result,
when developing training for new recruits, educational re-

quirements must be taken into consideration. If one
agency requires a four-year degree, and another requires
very little formal education, the kind/level of training may
be influenced.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 215

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 28: Training for Law Enforcement Personnel

have mental illness and family members of people with mental illness. Familiarity with consumers is of particular importance, as many new officers may
have had little to no contact with this population. Officers should be encouraged to visit consumer clubhouses and peer support projects, offer to sit on ACT
program boards of directors, speak at local mental health group meetings, and
participate (when invited) in social events where consumers are regularly
present. Interactions with people who have mental illness who are not in crisis
can put a “human face” on mental illness that will challenge myths or misconceptions officers may have.
Example: Long Beach (CA) Police Department

The Long Beach Police Department requires that all new recruits attend “Field Contacts with People with Mental Illness.” Through this course, recruits are introduced to
consumers both in the classroom and in mental health facilities.

Example: Montgomery County (MD) Police Department

The Montgomery County Police Department holds part of its training in the physical
space of a public mental health facility to familiarize officers with people with mental
illnesses.

Through such training exercises, officers see that people with mental illness do not always exhibit signs of their condition. The officers also come to
understand the effects of unintentionally stigmatizing people with mental illness, and the impact that an inappropriate response in a situation involving
mental illness can have on a person, a family member, the victim, or the community.

c

Provide to patrol officers at least twenty hours, over a three-year
cycle, of in-service training about mental illness that includes indepth reviews of topics covered generally in recruit training and
on additional topics.

As discussed at the outset of this policy statement, in-service training refers to periodic courses provided to all officers at some interval (e.g., annually,
biannually) to expand on previous training or as a refresher. Though some of
these topics may be addressed in new skills or recruit training, in-service training is an important opportunity to reinforce the department’s sensitivity to people
with mental illness and to update staff about changes to the department’s response protocols. At least twenty hours of in-service training should be provided over a three-year cycle. In some cases, it may be inappropriate to wait
until such training sessions; in such an event, the updates can be provided
during informational roll calls, integrated into related modules such as those
on use of force, cultural diversity, or special populations. Stand-alone modules
are preferable, but recognizing the many mandate training topics, an integrated

216 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

model that uses some stand-alone modules may be necessary. Issues such as
the difference between mental illness and disorders such as epilepsy or autism,
cultural and gender differences among individuals with mental illness, and
medication issues may all be suitable topics for in-service training (see chart for
more suggested topics).
Example: Seattle (WA) Police Department

The Seattle Police Department requires all officers to attend a mandatory eight-hour
block of instruction to develop an adequate competency level when encountering
citizens with mental illnesses.

Trainers should consider including nontraditional exercises such as having police officers attempt tasks associated with daily living while being exposed to “voices.” Training should also include opportunities to meet with consumers and their families in the field, at clubhouses, shelters, soup kitchens,
and NAMI support parties and meetings, just as is recommended for recruits.
In addition, training should provide the chance for law enforcement officers to
visit crisis centers and mental health facilities in order to gain resource awareness. Officers should be given ample opportunity to practice de-escalation techniques, such as talking to the person with mental illness and waiting out a
violent episode, as well as to run through diversion protocols that rely
on contacting community-based mental health services and supports. (See Policy
Statement 3: On-Scene Assessment, for more on de-escalation techniques.) Roleplaying exercises are one way to help officers model these behaviors prior to
using them in the field. As a caution, the training facilitator should carefully
monitor role-playing exercises. When left unchecked, officers can disengage and
not fully participate in role-play exercises or, at the other extreme, participants
can be become overinvolved to the detriment of the class and ultimately to the
detriment of people with mental illness.
Example: Montgomery County (MD) Police Department

The Montgomery County Police Department employs an exercise in which officers are
required to wear headphones that blare loud music and voices, conveying disconnected thinking. Officers are asked to go about their routine tasks while wearing the
headphones. The purpose of the activity is to simulate some of the challenges that
people with mental illness face.6

For larger jurisdictions, more sophisticated training technologies may be
available, including computer-simulated shoot/don’t shoot scenarios or other
media requiring officers to make split-second decisions involving people with
mental illness. In these situations, what the officer chooses to do determines
what he or she sees next. These methods enhance critical-incident decision
making skills and promote compliance with use of force protocols.

6. See www.power2u.org (the National Empowerment
Center) for more on the cassette tape series “Hearing Distressing Voices,” which employs this training technique.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 217

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 28: Training for Law Enforcement Personnel

This technology could be used in this context so officers can see the
results of their decisions in a training environment. Videotapes are useful for
refresher courses or roll-call training, as they usually succeed in getting people
talking. They can augment discussions and stimulate debate, but they are not
the sole response to training needs.

d

Prepare select law enforcement staff to serve on a special team by
providing them with advanced skills training on the fullest range
of mental health topics every three years.

Advanced training courses should typically be at least 40 hours and should
be geared toward officers who will serve on special teams that focus on calls
involving people with mental illness. (See chart for topics.)
Consumers and their families, advocates, and mental health care providers should be included extensively in specialized training. Additionally, as specialized training entails more time than in-service training, information provided to the officers should be more in-depth. The Memphis Police Department,
Albuquerque Police Department, Montgomery County Police Department,
Roanoke Police Department, Pinellas County Sheriff ’s Office, and Athens-Clarke
County Police Department are among those law enforcement agencies that have
developed a 40-hour advanced training course.
Ideally, class size for advanced training classes should be kept manageable
to ensure a facilitator-to-student ratio that allows for total participation. Some
agencies may decide that only a special team of officers will receive this training course, while other departments will mandate the advanced training for all
officers. The audience does not affect the information that should be included in
an advanced training. Field Training Officers and others engaged in training
or supervising patrol officers and dispatchers should be required to attend the
advanced training.
Advanced skills trainings should include all of the techniques referred to
previously, including extended visits to local mental health facilities to learn
about treatments offered and opportunities for computer simulations. As an
additional consideration, an emphasis may be placed on less-than-lethal (LTL)
alternatives and on education to destigmatize mental illness and lessen fear
should be provided to enhance shoot/don’t shoot decisions.

218 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

e

Train communications personnel (call takers and dispatchers) that
work with law enforcement on how to deal with calls that may involve mental illness.

Communications personnel who work with law enforcement agencies play
an important role in an agency’s response to people with mental illness. Training communications personnel is not possible for every law enforcement agency,
especially where 911 services are under the jurisdiction of the county or larger
municipality. When it is possible, however, law enforcement agencies should
involve call takers and dispatchers in training to enhance law enforcement service to people with mental illness.
Training communications personnel is imperative because the nature of
their actions will frame how much information callers provide to them and how
callers perceive the agencies’ sensitivity. These personnel also shape the responding officer’s state of mind upon arriving at the scene by emphasizing information that can increase or decrease officer fear or other preconceptions.
The questions call takers ask and the information relayed by dispatchers ensure that responders have access to all possible information so that they are
aware of disposition options. The responding officer can direct citizens to proper
services, treat them effectively and with dignity, and de-escalate situations.
Example: Houston (TX) Police Department

The Houston Police Department credits the training of dispatch and communications
staff as a key to their success in working with people with mental illness. Personnel
were trained to ask necessary questions in a timely and appropriate manner. The goal
of this training is to ensure that responding officers are provided with as much
information as possible

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 219

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

29

Policy Statement 29: Training for Court Personnel

Training for Court Personnel
POLICY STATEMENT #29

Provide adequate training for court officials (including prosecutors
and defense attorneys) about appropriate responses to criminal defendants who have a mental illness.

Successful implementation of the policy statements described in Chapter 3: Pretrial Issues, Adjudication, and Sentencing depends in part upon
prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges who are
familiar with mental illness, the mental health system, and the type of information they need to make
informed decisions on behalf of their clients, on behalf of the state, or in the interests of justice. Educational opportunities regarding mental health and
the law have traditionally tended to focus on case
law addressing scenarios, such as the not-guilty-byreason-of-insanity plea or other issues regarding
competency. As a result, new attorneys only rarely
are well familiar with mental health and the law.
Of those attorneys who have established an understanding of the issue through law school, few have
any practical preparation to defend or prosecute—
or assist the court with—a typical criminal case involving a person with mental illness. The result is
that most criminal lawyers learn about how best to
proceed with a case that involves a person with a
mental illness through discussions with colleagues
and case-by-case research—essentially on-the-job
training. While in many instances this can be ad-

220 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

equate for preparing the lawyer to handle an individual case, consistent with practices in his or her
jurisdiction, the lawyer may be woefully unaware
of current findings concerning issues unique to processing such cases. Given this situation, the recommendations under this policy statement review a
variety of ways for court-related officials to develop
knowledge and skills that would improve their response to people with mental illness who are involved in the court system.
Training for court personnel should include the
following topics:
“

signs and symptoms of mental illness

“

stigma associated with mental illness

“

prevalence of substance abuse among individuals with mental illness and the effects
of substance abuse on mental illness

“

gender and cultural differences among
people with mental illness and the potential impact on criminal case processing

“

the mental health system and available community resources

“

privacy rights and regulations relevant to
mental illness

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Incorporate into continuing judicial education programs classes
about mental illness and the participation of mental health professionals in the criminal process.7

Judges who are able to recognize the symptoms of mental illness and understand the treatments and services available in the mental health system
will be better equipped to deal with defendants with mental illness. It is important that support for such judicial education come from the jurisdiction’s highest appellate tribunal or its judicial supervisory authority with responsibility
for continuing judicial education. Judges should also be aware of the prevalence and interaction of co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. This can be accomplished through direct training for judicial officers, or
by identifying court liaisons available to court officers when individuals with
mental illness are before the court.
Example: Course on Co-Occurring Disorders, The National Judicial College

The National Judicial College has a course that helps judges become better informed
about co-occurring substance abuse and mental health disorders. The course is
intended to help judges recognize the signs of a substance abuse or mental health
disorder, select the appropriate judicial strategies for the treatment and monitoring of
such individuals, and design a plan for the implementation of systems or ideas to
address co-occurring disorders in their own jurisdiction.

"We have basically made
mental illness a crime in
this country. And it's imperative that we educate
judges about this issue [of
incarcerating people with
mental illness]. It has a
huge impact on the court
system. I don't think most
judges appreciate or understand that."
HON. STEVEN
LEIFMAN
Associate Administrative
Judge, Miami-Dade
County Court, Criminal
Division, FL
Source: Psychiatric News May
3, 2002 Volume 37 Number 9,
p. 8. 2002 American Psychiatric
Association p. 8

Example: Mental Health Liaison, Texas Judicial System

The state of Texas has created a mental health liaison to provide technical assistance
to judges and attorneys in the pretrial and presentence phases. The state is also
developing a bench manual for judges, which provides guidelines on sentencing and
alternatives. A separate section of this manual will deal specifically with persons
with mental illness.

b

Provide training for defense attorneys and prosecutors regarding
defendants with mental illness.

It is crucial for defense attorneys and prosecutors to develop a basic understanding of mental illness and the mental health system. Training topics can
include information about the major mental illnesses, the high potential for
recovery with proper diagnoses and treatment, and the prevalence and effects
of substance abuse among individuals with mental illness (especially those involved in the criminal justice system).8 In addition, prosecutors and defense

7. ABA, Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards, Standard 7-1.3.

8. Angela D. Vickers, “Saving Lives: Creating Partnerships
with your Legal Communities,” presentation atNational
Mental Health Association Conference, 2001.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 221

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 29: Training for Court Personnel

attorneys should be trained to understand how mental illness can be a contributing factor to criminal behavior.
Some courts (such as Washington State’s King County Mental Health Court)
that focus exclusively on cases involving mental illness have used the expertise
of mental health partners to help defense attorneys and prosecutors develop
this awareness. Mental health service providers can offer brief in-service training sessions about different diagnoses, medications, service needs, and the components and contours of the mental health system. These sessions also can
provide an excellent opportunity for court personnel to educate personnel from
the mental health system on the functions, concerns, and procedures of the
courts. Successful collaboration depends on criminal justice and mental health
partners who understand each other’s missions and methodologies.
Prosecutors who are interested in pursuing alternatives to incarceration
for defendants with mental illness should have a comprehensive understanding of the mental health treatment opportunities in their community. Again,
this goal can best be pursued through collaborative cross-training with local
mental health providers. The goal here is not just to develop awareness for
prosecutors but to help representatives of both systems understand the needs
and concerns of their counterparts.
The primary goal of defense attorneys—protecting the best interests of
their clients—similarly requires that counsel should have a base of knowledge
about mental illness as well as an up-to-date understanding of the types of
mental health services available in the community, their individual requirements, and their experience working in the justice system. It may be especially
helpful to have consumers and family members participate in these trainings
to help assist defense attorneys in understanding the concerns of defendants
who have mental illness.9 Defense attorneys who will be specializing in cases
involving defendants with mental illness, such as commitment hearings, should
receive more in-depth training.
Example: Mental Health Litigation Unit, Massachusetts Committee for
Public Counsel Services

The Mental Health Litigation Unit (MHLU) of the Massachusetts Committee for Public
Counsel Services provides training for defense attorneys who represent individuals
with mental illness in civil and criminal cases. The MHLU offers a mandatory twopart training program for attorneys in Massachusetts who wish to accept assignments
in mental health proceedings (e.g., civil commitment cases, involuntary treatment
cases). The first part of the training offers a comprehensive two-day review of
mental health law and procedural rules applicable in mental health proceedings, with
an emphasis on litigation technique and strategy. The day-long second part of the
training also provides an overview of the diagnoses and treatment of mental illness,
emphasizing the issues typically raised in mental health proceedings (e.g., the predic-

9. Derek Denckla and Greg Berman, Rethinking the Revolving Door: A Look at Mental Illness in the Courts, Center
for Court Innovation, 2001. Available at
www.courtinnovation.org/pdf/mental_health.pdf.

Interviews with defendants with mental illness in this
“think piece” demonstrate the distance between the client’s
and defense attorney’s understanding of the client’s best
interests. In these interviews, some defendants suggested

222 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

tion of dangerousness, medication). The MHLU also offers training on mental health
issues to public defenders and private attorneys who will be appointed in criminal
proceedings.

c

Train pretrial services and probation personnel to recognize symptoms of mental illness and to respond appropriately.

There are two critical points in the criminal justice process where decisions as to an arrestee’s interests are at stake: at the initial appearance before
a judicial officer when the decision as to release or detention is made, and at
sentencing, when the judicial officer decides for those convicted of a crime
whether the offender should be incarcerated or supervised in the community
for his conviction. In both instances the judicial officer has available a neutral
agency, whose role is to provide the decision maker with all information about
the individual that is relevant to the decision. For the pretrial release decision
the agency—pretrial services—identifies and provides all information that might
be indicative of the arrestee’s likelihood to return to court as required and remain arrest free pending disposition. For the sentencing decision, the assisting
agency—probation—looks more broadly at the issues of rehabilitation, punishment, deterrence, and other legitimate concerns. In both instances it is critical
that the officers be sensitive to the possibility that the arrestee suffers from
mental illness. It is not suggested that either agency attempt to become mental
health diagnosticians; rather, both should be adequately trained to be able to
refer (or recommend that a judge refer) people who may suffer from mental
illness to trained mental health clinicians for a complete mental health assessment. Furthermore, both agencies should be trained on confidentiality issues—
the importance of obtaining consent for the release of mental health information, when and to whom information can be released, and the principle of
conveying the least information necessary.

Hiring Staff with
Mental Health
Expertise
Since developing initiatives that
address the issue of clients with
mental illness, a number of court
officials have hired staff with a
background in mental health.
These individuals may serve in
pretrial positions, as probation
officers, or as boundary spanners
between the courts and mental
health systems. Similarly, prosecutors and public defenders have
enhanced their offices’ capacity to
work on cases involving mental
illness by hiring social workers or
other professionals with some
expertise in mental health. While
such staff may require training regarding court-related processes,
their familiarity with clients with
mental illness and the mental
health system can make them a
valuable asset to many courtbased programs. For example,
pretrial ser vice programs in
Bernalillo County, New Mexico,
and Hamilton County, Ohio, employ staff with a mental health
background, as does the King
County, Washington, Mental
Health Court.

Example: Handbook and Training for Working with Mentally Disordered
Defendants, Federal Judicial Center

The Federal Judicial Center, the research and education agency of the federal judicial
system, has developed a handbook and training program for federal probation and
pretrial service officers regarding working with individuals with mental illness. The
handbook and training program cover a variety of issues, including basic information
about different mental disorders and treatments; a discussion of how to identify the
potential that an individual may have a mental health disorder or co-occurring substance abuse disorders; and supervision issues that may arise for individuals with a
mental illness, such as issues of treatment, safety, and the potential for suicide.

that defense attorneys who better understood mental illness
would try to help their clients obtain treatment as opposed
to encouraging a guilty plea—the avenue to minimizing the

client’s short term involvement with the criminal justice
system.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 223

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 29: Training for Court Personnel

Example: Pretrial Services Training, Hamilton County (OH)

The Hamilton County Pretrial Services Program offers training for staff on a variety of
issues surrounding clients with mental illness. Staff members receive basic training
on the variety of mental illness diagnoses, medications, symptoms, and co-occurring
disorders. In addition, pretrial staff members receive training on interview techniques, referral procedures, and confidentiality regulations. The program provides
both in-service trainings and outside training opportunities offered through a combination of in-house staff, independent contractors and workshops, and county-offered
classes.

d

Offer advanced courses on mental health law and participation by
mental health professionals in the criminal process for students
who desire to concentrate on criminal law practice. 10

The American Bar Association (ABA) recommends that education about
mental illness be incorporated into law school curricula. There are a variety of
legal education topics relevant to mental illness that are appropriate for law
school classes, including mental health law, disability law, confidentiality rights,
civil commitment proceedings, treatment rights, competency proceedings, among
many others. Some of these topics are already covered widely in law school
courses around the country. Some law schools, such as Virginia, Arizona, Nebraska, and Villanova have taken a focused look at mental health and legal
issues.
Example: University of Virginia Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public
Policy

The Institute of Law, Psychiatry, and Public Policy is an interdisciplinary program in
mental health law, forensic psychiatry, and forensic psychology. The institute offers
academic offerings on a wide array of topics in mental health law, including ethical
issues in mental health services, the interaction between psychological science and
law, civil commitment proceedings, and many others. The institute also provides
training for medical students on relevant criminal justice issues.

e

Develop and conduct programs for which continuing legal education (CLE) credit can be provided that offer advanced instruction
on mental health law and participation by mental health professionals in the criminal process.11

Continuing legal education provides an opportunity for attorneys to improve their knowledge and skills regarding mental health issues. The American Bar Association standards suggest that “bar associations, law schools, and
other organizations having responsibility for providing continuing legal educa-

10. ABA, Criminal Justice Mental Health Standards,
Standard 7-1.3.

11. Ibid.

224 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

tion” incorporate programs about mental health law and participation by mental health professionals in the criminal process into their curricula. Furthermore, the ABA recommends that prosecutors, public defenders, and other attorneys who specialize in criminal law should participate in these programs.
Continuing legal education for defense attorneys and prosecutors can include
basic information about mental illness (e.g., diagnoses, symptoms, treatment)
as well as more specific material concerning mental health in the courts, such
as different dispositional options, appropriate charging, and proper information sharing procedures.
To encourage the development of and participation in programs concerning mental illness and the courts, some state bar associations have made education about mental illness part of the CLE requirements. This designation
can help raise awareness about the importance of this type of education, but
requires the development of curricula and educational opportunities to ensure
that lawyers have the opportunity to become educated about this important
issue. Any organization providing or coordinating training programs concerning mental health and legal issues should make sure to obtain CLE certification, or credit toward professional certification, from the appropriate agency
within the jurisdiction. This will provide added incentive for lawyers and other
court personnel to take advantage of these training opportunities.
Example: Continuing Legal Education Requirements, Florida Bar

In February 2001, the Florida Supreme Court unanimously approved an amendment to
the Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Requirements of the Florida Bar to include
education on mental illness among the mandatory categories of continuing legal
education. Florida Bar members are required to undergo 30 hours of CLE every three
years, five hours of which must be in one of four mandatory categories (professionalism, ethics, substance abuse, and, now, mental illness).

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 225

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

30

Policy Statement 30: Training for Corrections Personnel

Training for Corrections Personnel
POLICY STATEMENT # 30

Train corrections staff to recognize symptoms of mental illness and
to respond appropriately to people with mental illness.

As is the case with law enforcement executives,
corrections administrators place a premium on
trained staff. In addition, like those in policing organizations, training efforts in corrections agencies
typically fall into one of four categories: new skills
(basic), pre-service (academy), in-service, and advanced. (See Policy Statement 28: Training for Law

Enforcement Personnel, for brief definitions of the
different levels of training.) At the county level,
however—especially in small jurisdictions—correctional staff may receive minimal pre-service training, and the level of in-service training varies widely
across different jurisdictions.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Provide basic training regarding mental health issues to all corrections staff who come into contact with detainees or inmates
with mental illness.

There are some staff in some prisons or jails who, despite being in regular
contact with inmates with mental illness, have received little or no meaningful
training regarding mental health issues. These personnel may be uniformed
security staff who received academy training but are not prepared for in-service refresher training on mental illness. This audience may also be program
staff, such as case managers, teachers, or vocational counselors, who did not
attend an academy and may have received minimal pre-service training. Whatever their background, any corrections personnel who have regular interaction
with inmates with mental illness should receive basic training on how to better
serve those inmates.

226 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Basic training for corrections personnel should be geared toward the following goals:
“

improve staff’s ability to identify inmates with possible mental health
issues;

“

enable staff to understand when to refer an inmate for a mental health
screening and/or assessment;

“

teach staff to recognize symptoms of an adverse reaction to psychotropic medication;

“

provide basic information on issues related to co-occurring substance
abuse and mental illness;

“

reduce stigmatization of inmates with mental illness by sensitizing corrections staff to the unique needs of these individuals;

“

assist correctional staff in recognizing cultural factors that may influence their awareness of signs and symptoms of mental illness; and

“

improve the ability of corrections officers to communicate facility procedures/rules to inmates with mental illness.

Educating Inmates
About Mental Illness
Some jurisdictions, such as the
New York City Department of Corrections, provide training regarding mental health issues for inmates, too. Although this training
is somewhat controversial, its
goals are laudable. Inmates who
receive a basic orientation to mental health issues and the issues
involved in responding to the
needs of offenders with mental
illness can provide assistance to
staff in observing or identifying
other inmates in need of mental
health services—often before
staff become aware of the needs
of those inmates.

Many states have established policies that require basic mental health
services training.
Example: Virginia Department of Corrections

The Virginia DOC has established a comprehensive training program to train both
institutional (security and nonsecurity) staff and clinical staff. The Department has
engaged a full-time mental health training coordinator who is stationed at the DOC’s
Academy for Staff Development.

Training of correctional mental health staff should include experiential,
in-service activities in addition to didactic, classroom instruction. For example,
the Oregon Department of Corrections trains mental health staff on the housing units directly alongside the correctional officers. In developing training
programs regarding mental illness for corrections staff it can be especially helpful
to collaborate with personnel from state mental health agencies, communitybased mental health providers, or other professionals with mental health expertise.
Example: Training Video, New York State Department of Corrections, New
York State Office of Mental Health

In New York State, the commissioner of the Department of Corrections reached out to
the commissioner of the Office of Mental Health to request collaboration and expert
assistance in producing a training video on managing inmates with mental illness.
The video is designed for use in the corrections pre-service training academy as well
as for in-service training purposes for those already through the academy.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 227

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

b

Policy Statement 30: Training for Corrections Personnel

Incorporate competency-based training in mental health issues in
existing academy (pre-service) training programs and in-service
programs for corrections staff.

Training academies and pre-service training programs offer an opportunity to begin sensitizing corrections staff to issues regarding mental illness.
This training should focus on the development of competencies. Though a number of hours may be designated for academy training on mental health issues, it
is critical that the measure of training success be improvements in the trainees’
knowledge and abilities. Suggested topics for academy training include the
following:
Basic issues concerning mental illness
“

signs and symptoms of mental illness

“

attitudes about mental illness (e.g., stigma)

“

understanding and assessing mental illnesses

“

the relationship between violence and mental illness

“

dual diagnoses: substance abuse and mental illness

“

developmental disorders

“

homelessness and mental illnesses

Management of inmates with mental illness
“

de-escalation techniques

“

officer safety

“

calming approach methods

“

interviewing techniques

“

medications: noncompliance; side effects

“

internal services and referral procedures

“

suicide prevention

Administrative issues
“

civil rights, including privacy rights

“

confidentiality

“

victims with mental illness

“

available community resources

“

cultural diversity/gender difference

“

consumer and family perspectives
Example: Pre-service and In-service training, Connecticut Department of
Corrections

The Connecticut Department of Corrections (DOC) offers pre-service and in-service
training to corrections officers on how to work with inmates with special needs,

228 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

including those with mental illness. This training addresses a number of issues,
including legal requirements regarding confidentiality, symptoms of different mental
illnesses, collaboration with correctional mental health staff, and suicide prevention,
among other topics. Correctional mental health staff, who are employed by Correctional Managed Health Care, receive training facilitated by both psychiatric professionals and corrections officers.

Example: Correction Officer Training, New York State Department of
Corrections

The New York State Department of Corrections (DOCS) Training Academy has teamed
with the Capital District Psychiatric Center (CDPC) Mental Health Players to develop
an enhanced pre-service training curriculum concerning mental health issues. The
full-day training emphasizes hands-on experience in dealing with inmates with mental illness. The morning session provides background information on types of mental
health issues encountered most often in correctional facilities, including suicide prevention. The afternoon module is unique in that volunteers from the CDPC Mental
Health Players role play inmates experiencing mental health problems, providing correction officer candidates a chance to practice communication skills in a “real-world”
setting. Feedback from training academy staff and candidates has been overwhelmingly positive.

c

Provide advanced training to corrections staff assigned to work
specifically with inmates with mental illness.

Corrections staff who are assigned to work specifically on units with inmates at high risk of mental illness (e.g., special housing units, administrative
segregation) and/or already diagnosed with mental illness (e.g., psychiatric intensive care units) should receive intensive training in mental health issues
and management of inmates with mental illness. In Florida, state law requires
that corrections officers employed by a mental health treatment facility receive
specialized training beyond that required for basic certification. It is important
to tap the expertise of professional mental health crisis workers when offering
specialized training, especially in dealing with de-escalation techniques, restraints, and lethal force.

d

Provide parole board members with training in order to inform
them about issues regarding the release of people with mental
illness from prison.

Parole board members come from a variety of backgrounds and areas of
expertise. Some may have experience that helps them understand people with
mental illness, but most do not. The stigma of mental illness, especially the
common association between mental illness and violence, may cause parole board
members to be wary of offering parole to offenders with mental illness (see

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 229

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 30: Training for Corrections Personnel

Policy Statement 20: Release Decision). Training can enhance parole board
members’ understanding of the complex issues presented by this offender group,
and enable them to make informed decisions regarding parole candidates.
Example: New Board Member Training, National Parole Board, Canada

The National Parole Board in Canada offers extensive training about mental illness to
new board members. Of the 15 days of total training required of new board members, two of the days are devoted to mental health issues. The board relies on two
general reference documents—the Diagnostic Manual for Mental Disorders and the
Historical, Clinical and Risk Guide for Violent Offenders with Mental Illness—and one
internal risk-assessment manual, which has a chapter on mental illness. The parole
board is also developing an even more in-depth guide for board members on dealing
with offenders with mental illness.

Training curricula should be developed and, depending on the jurisdiction,
tailored for individuals appointed to serve as parole board members, both for
new appointees as well as on an annual or ongoing basis. Parole board members should have a fundamental understanding about the nature and types of
mental illness and how mental illness is diagnosed and treated. They should
also be provided with training about the risks and needs associated with mental illness and the types of treatment, resources, and support services that can
mitigate that risk.
There is also opportunity in this context to provide cross-training, which
would include training for mental health personnel about a jurisdiction’s criminal justice system as well as its public safety issues, needs, and processes. In
many jurisdictions, these two systems, while having a significant shared population, have operated substantially apart from each other. Only in recent years
have these barriers begun to break down. Cross-training is one opportunity to
develop shared understanding about the potentially competing criminal justice
and treatment needs of the offender who has a mental illness.
Example: Cross Training, Massachusetts Parole Board, Massachusetts
Department of Mental Health

In 1998, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH), The Massachusetts
Parole Board, and the Department of Corrections developed a broad agreement to
strengthen the delivery of mental health services to individuals with mental illness
incarcerated in state correctional institutions or eligible for parole. Cross-training
between the DMH and the parole board provided background on new policies and
procedures developed as part of the agreement and helped staff from the different
agencies better understand the roles of their colleagues. Regional groups engaged in
roundtable discussions to develop specific goals and strategies for realizing the objective of improved service to inmates with mental illness. DMH staff has also
offered training to senior parole officers in support of the collaborative agreement.

230 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

e

Provide training for parole officers to improve their ability to supervise parolees with mental illness.

Parole officers have a varying degree of exposure to people with mental
illness. Parole officers with typical caseloads will undoubtedly encounter some
clients with mental illness. These parole officers need basic training on how to
best serve these clients. This training should cover topics similar to those dealt
with in the basic training offered to corrections personnel discussed above. In
addition, parole officers need training on the availability of community mental
health resources, intervention services, alternatives to revocation, sensitivity
to victims, and updates on the changes in mental health treatment law. Parole
officers should be able to recognize when a person with mental illness is decompensating and when a person with mental illness is not complying with conditions of release because of an inability to obtain access to effective treatment.
It is especially important to reconcile the different missions of community
corrections agencies and mental health service providers. Most mental health
and substance abuse treatment providers view relapse and setbacks in treatment as part of the recovery process. Parole requires offenders to follow certain
release conditions or risk violation and reincarceration. These two outlooks
can conflict when mental health (or substance abuse) treatment is part of a
parolee’s release conditions. Cross-training between parole officers and mental
health providers, consumers, and family members can be effective in synthesizing the goals of parole and mental health treatment.
Some parole officers have caseloads dedicated to parolees with mental
illness. Because the primary focus of these parole officers is to supervise parolees with mental illness, it is appropriate to provide more in-depth training on
mental health issues. Parolees who work with a dedicated mental health
caseload will likely be collaborating frequently with mental health service providers. It is crucial that these providers work together to understand each
other’s roles in supporting an offender’s reintegration into the community.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 231

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

31

Policy Statement 31: Training for Mental Health Professionals

Training for Mental Health Professionals
POLICY STATEMENT # 31

Develop training programs for mental health professionals who work
with the criminal justice system.

Just as staff in the criminal justice system recognize the need to learn new skills that will allow
them to provide appropriate care for people with
mental illness with whom they have contact, those
who work in the mental health field must develop
awareness of the special needs of people with mental illness who have been arrested and/or incarcerated. If they are to help people with mental illness
who have criminal histories to live in the community at large, mental health staff must understand
the implications of those histories as well as the
imprint arrest and incarceration may leave on a
person. They also must understand the criminal justice system itself so that they can interact productively with their counterparts in that system.
Criminal justice agencies and community mental health programs have different traditions, missions, and often even different values. Their staff
have typically been trained very differently. One
way of looking at these differences is to think of them
as different cultures. In order to achieve successful
collaboration and integration of resources, staff from
both arenas will need to understand their cultural
differences as well as appreciate their overlapping
missions.

232 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

An analogous situation arose when substance
abuse treatment began to increase in jails and prisons. What was discovered at that time was that
cross-training was necessary for solid collaboration
and integration of services. Cross-training here simply means that each staff train the other, so that
criminal justice personnel learn more about mental
health and mental health staff learn more about
criminal justice in a combined learning environment.
Training topics for mental health providers and
administrators include the following:
Training about law enforcement
“

the public safety responsibilities of law enforcement officers

“

police protocols for the use of force

“

responsibilities of first and backup responders

“

officers’ expectations of community providers

“

familiarity with law enforcement officers
and officials

“

the booking process

Training about the court
“

general court procedures

“

information sharing in the court setting

“

responsibilities of prosecutors, court administrators, defense attorneys, and judges

“

conditional release programs and their administration in the jurisdiction

Training about corrections agencies
“

jail classification procedures

“

jail personnel and the jail environment

“

correctional procedures, including intake
and classification

“

scope of behavioral health services available
in prison

“

familiarity with the rules of Medicaid, SSI,
SSDI, TANF, and other benefit programs for
those who are incarcerated in jail or prison

Training about working with consumers
who have been involved with, or are at
risk of being involved with, the criminal
justice system
“

advance directives

“

the effects of correctional incarceration on
mental illness

“

obstacles faced by individuals who have been
incarcerated

“

correctional medical staff and facilities

“

corrections release planning staff and procedures

“

ensuring the safety of the provider and consumer

“

community corrections (e.g. probation, parole) procedures and protocols

“

cultural competency

“

housing options in the community for people
with mental illness

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Work with university and other mental health professional training
programs to enhance their curricula on the criminal justice system.

Training programs for mental health professionals around the country are
slowly changing their curricula to address working with a criminal justice system population. Training in this area has several purposes. By enabling mental health staff to use and understand terminology common in the criminal
justice system, the training would allow them to work more effectively with
staff in that system. Training also could have a more clinical orientation, helping mental health staff to better understand the complex needs of people with
mental illness who are in contact with the criminal justice system. Depending
on the approach of the program, topics to be addressed might include everything from the basics of criminal law and the criminal justice system to applying relapse prevention techniques to criminal thinking.
With law schools and criminology programs adding courses on mental illness, mental health practitioners may also wish to enroll in them for the purpose of better understanding the criminal justice system’s orientation. This
would be especially true in areas or settings where criminal justice issues have
not yet penetrated professional mental health training programs. (See Policy
Statement 29: Training for Court Personnel, for more on law school and continuing legal education classes regarding mental illness.)

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 233

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

b

Policy Statement 31: Training for Mental Health Professionals

Develop in-service curricula for mental health staff that address
obstacles to working with criminal justice clients.

In-service training is likely to be of more use to mental health staff already
working in the field. In many mental health agencies, training in a number of
clinical and nonclinical areas is already frequently scheduled. Adding training
in criminal justice issues will generally not pose great logistical difficulty.
This in-service training would have several purposes. It would provide
current information to mental health staff about provisions in the criminal justice system for treatment of people with mental illness. It would allow mental
health and criminal justice personnel to build and enhance relationships. And
it would provide a forum for problem areas to be identified, potentially leading
to plans for subsequent training.
In-service training also could provide opportunities for mental health staff
to learn from clients themselves and their families about the challenges they
face when reentering the community after time in jail or prison—or even after
an arrest with no time having been served. People with mental illness who
have criminal justice histories often find they face an additional stigma. Training that involves mental health staff and clients with histories of criminal justice involvement can provide opportunities to address this stigma and the discrimination faced by many such clients.
Example: Transitions Training, New York State Office of Mental Health

The New York State Office of Mental Health has developed a training program for
mental health agency administrators and supervisors to help them better serve individuals with mental illness who have been incarcerated in state prison. The training
program addresses coordination with parole staff as well as the stigma attached to
involvement in the criminal justice system. The training is delivered by mental health
consumers who have experienced the struggles of incarceration in state prison and
release back into the community. A mental health advocacy group provides consumer-trainers with support.

Example: Connecticut Jail Diversion Project

Mental health clinicians in Connecticut’s Jail Diversion Project receive periodic inservice training about the missions and procedures of the different criminal justice
agencies with which they collaborate. Representatives from the Department of Corrections, the State’s Attorney’s office and the Public Defender’s office (among others)
participate in the training and discuss case scenarios with the clinicians. The clinicians learn how to maintain the integrity of their role as treatment professionals while
operating in the criminal justice system.

234 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 235

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 32: Educating the Community and Building Community Awareness

Educating the Community and

32

Building Community Awareness
POLICY STATEMENT # 32:

Educate the community about mental illness, the value of mental
health services, and appropriate responses when people with mental
illness who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Educate community members about mental illness to help combat
stigma and improve the community’s understanding of mental
health as a community issue.

Despite the prevalence of mental illness and the cost to taxpayers of inadequate mental health treatment, communities have not made access to effective mental health service a priority. Furthermore, when a person with mental
illness is involved with the criminal justice system, the public typically assumes,
incorrectly, that the person is inherently violent and cannot function in the
community.
Indeed, the Surgeon General’s recent report on mental health argues that
the stigma around mental illness is one of the most significant challenges to the
development of effective mental health policy.12 This stigma has intensified
over recent decades, despite the advancement of scientific knowledge about the
causes of mental illness and the effectiveness of certain treatments; studies
show that a greater portion of people associated mental illness with violence in
the 1990s than the general public did in the 1950s.13
Combating the stigma surrounding mental illness and enlisting broad-based
support for improvements to mental health policy requires education. Until
the general public comes to understand mental illness as a disease similar to
physical illnesses, public support for improved mental health services is un-

12. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,
Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, Rockville,
MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration,
Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of

Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999, p. 6.
13. Little Hoover Commission, Being There: Making a
Commitment to Mental Health, Sacramento, CA, November
2000, p. 31.

236 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"Stigmatization of people
with mental disorders has
persisted throughout history. It is manifested by
bias, distrust, stereotyping, fear, embarrassment,
anger, and/or avoidance.
Stigma leads others to
avoid living, socializing or
working with, renting to,
or employing people with
mental disorders...It deters the public from seeking, and wanting to pay
for, care. In its more overt
and egregious form,
stigma results in outright
discrimination and abuse.
More tragically, it deprives
people of their dignity and
interferes with their full
participation in society."
Source: Mental Health: A Report
of the Surgeon General, p.6

likely to increase. To this end, California’s Little Hoover Commission’s report
Being There suggests the formation of a statewide commission on mental health
advocacy to build public support for adequate mental health services. Changing public opinion about mental illness is a difficult task, but one for which the
criminal justice system can be an extremely effective partner. Criminal justice
personnel are charged with ensuring public safety. They have, therefore, a
singular credibility advocating for improved community-based mental health
services and dispelling notions that people with mental illness in the community compromise public safety. Criminal justice officials, who deal with the
influx of individuals with mental illness into their system on a daily basis, can
help the public and policymakers become aware of the need to improve community-based mental health services.
Example: Commission on the Status of Mental Health of Iowa’s Corrections Population

The Community Corrections Improvement Association, the private foundation arm of
the Iowa Sixth Judicial District Department of Correctional Services, formed the Commission on the Status of Mental Health of Iowa’s Corrections Population to provide a
forum for public discussion about issues at the intersection of mental health and
criminal justice. During November 2001, the commission held a series of eight public
hearings, supported by a panel of experts, across the state of Iowa to consider the
issues from a local level. The commission also administered a survey to assess
public attitudes and knowledge, developed a video and media relations campaign, and
planned a conference to raise awareness about mental health and criminal justice
issues.

b

Educate consumers, family members, friends, and advocates for
people with mental illness about the processes and procedures of
the criminal justice system.

Consumers and their loved ones often want to cooperate with the criminal
justice system—or seek the assistance of officials in the criminal justice system—but lack the knowledge to successfully interact with representatives of
the various criminal justice agencies. Criminal justice agencies can improve
consumer awareness and initiate positive relationships through community
outreach programs. Such programs can be important preventative tools, which
improve the safety of both criminal justice personnel and consumers during
future interactions.14 Similarly, consumers and families who know whom to
call and what to ask for are much more likely to have their needs met at the
outset, which will make these interactions less frustrating for both parties.

14. Police departments have done similar community
outreach to improve their service to individuals with hearing impairments. See Christine Stolba and Marci Sliman,
Policing the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Populations, Cul-

tural Diversity and the Police. Available at:
www.policylab.org/deaf.pdf.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 237

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 32: Educating the Community and Building Community Awareness

Example: Chapel Hill (NC) Police Department

The Chapel Hill Police Department conducts community trainings in conjunction with
NAMI and the local clubhouse (an organization that provides support services through
a self-help community-based center) to educate family members as to their rights and
responsibilities when in contact with the police department. These interactions have
also helped increase the level of trust between the community and the police department.

When a person with mental illness becomes involved in the criminal justice system, his or her family, friends, mental health service providers, and
other advocates may want to help in a variety of ways. Family members may
want to inform the defense attorney about the defendant’s mental health history, to advocate for the defendant’s placement in a particular treatment program, or generally to help their loved one navigate the criminal justice system.
Advocates in some communities have developed resources for such situations.
Example: When a Person with Mental Illness is Arrested: How to Help, A
New York City Handbook for Family, Friends, Peer Advocates, and Community Mental Health Workers

Staff at the Urban Justice Center’s Mental Health Project developed a practical handbook for supporters of people with mental illness who have become involved in the
criminal justice system. The handbook provides general information about the criminal justice process (arrest, arraignment, meeting with counsel), relevant statutes and
advice for advocates on working with defense attorneys, as well as information specific to the New York City criminal justice system.

Example: Mental Health Services for Mentally Ill Persons in Jail – A
Manual for Families and Professionals Including Jail Diversion Strategies,
NAMI Wisconsin

NAMI Wisconsin, in conjunction with a variety of mental health and criminal justice
professionals, developed a manual to help families and professionals better understand the issues that arise when an individual with mental illness becomes involved
in the criminal justice system. This manual includes sections dedicated to the mental
health system, the criminal justice system, jail diversion programs, and other relevant
issues. Though originally targeted to families of consumers who are involved in the
criminal justice system, the manual has proved useful to professionals throughout the
mental health and criminal justice fields.

Family members and other supporters of people with mental illness should
also receive information about the prerelease and discharge planning processes
from corrections personnel, and receive instruction on how they can participate
in helping their spouse or relative make a smooth transition from the jail/prison
back to the community. It is especially important that they know what resources are at their disposal to assist them and their recently released family
member when a crisis occurs.

238 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

c

Educate victim advocates about mental health services and procedures for offenders with mental illness.

Victim advocates should be informed about mental health services and
procedures within correctional facilities and how discharge planning occurs.
They should receive orientation, education, and assurances about what services are available for offenders and what supervision the offender will undergo
in addition to what protection they can expect from the criminal justice system.
These matters can be included in the overall community education and training curriculum developed by criminal justice agencies.

"Like any crime victim, a
person victimized by a
person with mental illness
immediately wants that
person to be held accountable. But they also want
to participate in creating a
system to make sure the
same thing doesn't happen to someone else."
ELLEN HALBERT
Director, Victim Witness
Division, District
Attorney's Office,
Travis County, TX
Source: Personal

correspondence

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 239

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

33

Policy Statement 33: Identifying Trainers

Identifying Trainers
POLICY STATEMENT # 33

Identify qualified professionals to conduct training.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Identify criminal justice professionals, mental health professionals, consumers, and other appropriate individuals to conduct staff
training.

The success of a training program usually hinges on the quality and appropriateness of the trainer. Criminal justice system personnel may be skeptical
of new approaches—sometimes with good reason. Training loses its effectiveness when participants detect that a facilitator is advancing a political agenda
or training largely for financial profit. Accordingly, it is important to choose
credible trainers who reflect the shared goals of the criminal justice agency and
the mental health community and who are committed to a long-term working
relationship.
Involving criminal justice system personnel in leading the education process sends a potent message to those being trained that responses are being
instituted because the agency is invested in enhancing service to people with
mental illness. For example, law enforcement trainers have the knowledge base
and credibility to cover sections on officer safety, enforcement protocols, and
other response topics that a civilian may not.
Involving the chief executive of the agency to commence the training or to
provide completion certificates also conveys the message that enhancing the
response to people with mental illnesses is a priority for the agency.
Example: Sheriff and County Commissioner, Pinellas County (FL)

In Pinellas County, the sheriff or the county commissioner has been to each of the
training classes to speak about the importance of the topic and show support. This
interaction has proven to be invaluable in highlighting to class participants the importance of responding appropriately to people with mental illnesses. Additionally, the
County Commissioner’s office presents a plaque to every officer who completes the
40-hour course.

240 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Frontline mental health professionals who have knowledge and field experience relating to the criminal justice system should be included in training for
frontline officers. Street-level crisis intervention workers, for example, are a
good resource for law enforcement officers because they have relevant field experience. Mental health experts with significant criminal justice or forensic
experience or community mental health crisis staff are also good choices. These
experts should be coached to concentrate on the basic elements of their expertise that provide a framework for understanding the essential concepts. They
should provide a model that everyone can use to detect and respond appropriately to general classes of mental illness. Detention facility inspectors and state
public defenders who specialize in mental health issues may be useful trainers
for addressing an audience of mental health professionals.
Most important, whoever is chosen to train personnel in the criminal justice system must be familiar with the challenges and risks that these individuals face in the field. Noncriminal justice trainers should be encouraged to participate in ride-alongs or other experience exchanges in corrections or court
settings to better understand these challenges and concerns.

b

Facilitate delivery of training in small or rural jurisdictions where
there may be a shortage of trainers.

Smaller jurisdictions may need to consider creative resource sharing to
make training more feasible. These jurisdictions may create regional training
classes, where one or two staff people are sent from several different areas.
These staff members would then be responsible for training others in their jurisdiction. This type of training can also help address cross-jurisdictional issues and problems and enhance coordination among neighboring agencies. Although distance-learning mechanisms such as CD-ROM or online courses may
be an option for those who cannot otherwise obtain access to training, they
should not be favored over in-person training sessions. While small, rural jurisdictions face limited resources, they do have access to national groups that
will help to provide training resources (e.g., the National Sheriffs’ Association,
the National Institute of Corrections). Key to the success of training remote,
rural jurisdictions is the commitment of agency managers to access the resources
that are available.
Example: Athens-Clarke County (GA) Police Department

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department conducts mental health training in conjunction with Advantage Behavioral Healthcare, the local community mental health
care provider agency. Local mental health care professionals (some in private practice) teach the Crisis Intervention Team class and each instructor donates his or her
time to the department. Additionally, officers are taken to a local hospital or mental
health facility to meet with staff and consumers. This has been a helpful method for
personalizing the discussion about people with mental illness for officers who have
had limited contact with this population.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 241

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
Educating the Community

Policy Statement 33: Identifying Trainers

Because criminal justice personnel are exposed to the same myths about
mental illness as the public, communities must involve consumers in criminal
justice system training to debunk these myths and to make personal connections with appropriate personnel. It will be critical to invite consumers who are
articulate and have a range of personal experiences to share. This involvement
should not be limited to a trip to an inpatient mental health facility. Instead,
criminal justice personnel should meet with people with mental illness who are
living independently, employed, and managing their illness. Another effective
mechanism to personalize mental illness may be for agencies to identify someone within the agency who has a family member with a mental illness and is
willing to share his or her experiences. Similarly, it is important for trainees to
have a full understanding of the experience of the victims of crimes committed
by offenders with mental illness. Including victim advocates in the design and
delivery of training programs is helpful to this end.

242 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 243

Chapter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and
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34

Policy Statement 34: Evaluating Training

Evaluating Training
POLICY STATEMENT # 34

Evaluate the quality of training content and delivery; update training
topics and curricula annually to ensure they reflect both the best
practices in the field as well as the salient issues identified as problematic during the past year.

(See Chapter VIII: Measuring and Evaluating
Outcomes, for a more comprehensive discussion of
assessing the results of policies and programs that
are suggested by this report.)

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Test whether trainees have effectively learned the material
presented.

Some law enforcement, court, or corrections veterans may participate reluctantly in a training session, confident that they have “seen it before” or “done
it all.” Administering a pretest at the beginning of the training session can
challenge such beliefs. Immediate post-testing of course content is valuable as
well, in order to assess changes in attitudes and knowledge. It might be useful
to conduct a third test, six months after the training, to evaluate how training
played out on the street, in case adjustments need to be made. As a caution,
while testing is important it can be considered counterproductive if participants think they have to memorize terminology. Tests should address information that will inform and improve responses to people with mental illness in
contact with the criminal justice system.

244 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

b

Ensure that current national trends and facility-specific needs
guide the training agenda.

New topics and recommendations for training are being developed across
the country on a continuing basis. Mental health training curricula should be
updated regularly in accordance with the best practices in the field. Sources for
current information can be obtained from such organizations as the Center for
Mental Health Services (CMHS) of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration (SAMHSA), the National GAINS Center, the American Correctional Health Services Association (ACHSA), the American Psychiatric Association (APA), and the National Commission on Correctional Health
Care (NCCHC). Criminal justice training officials should use the experts within
the mental health community to evaluate current training procedures.
Example: NAMI Evaluation of National Institute of Corrections
Training Programs

The National Institute of Corrections worked with NAMI to evaluate National Institute
of Corrections training for mental health correctional teams from 22 different jurisdictions. NAMI provided feedback to the corrections training personnel in charge of
those training programs.

c

Promote workshops and seminars on mental illness at conferences and professional associations.

Most members of the criminal justice system attend professional conferences and belong to professional associations. This includes law enforcement
line and staff, court officials, and corrections administrators and staff.
A number of organizations exist that provide training to court officials,
including the National Judicial College, National District Attorneys Association, National Legal Aid and Defenders Association, National Association of
Pretrial Services Agencies, and the American Probation and Parole Association, to name just a few. Several organizations also provide training on topics
for law enforcement, including the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF),
the Police Foundation, the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP),
the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE), the Major Cities Chiefs’ Association (MCCA), and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA).
Organizations such as the Association of State Correctional Administrators
(ASCA), the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), and the American Correctional Association (ACA) provide training geared to corrections administrators.
Many of these organizations have been including sessions on various aspects of working with individuals with mental illness at their regular meetings.
These organizations should consider the recommendations contained in this
document when planning such sessions in the future.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 245

CHAPTER VII

Elements of an
Effective Mental
Health System

M

any of the recommendations
contained in this report are
predicated on the availability of
effective mental health services
in the community. Police, judges, jailers, community corrections officials, and others who refer a
person with mental illness to community-based
mental health services expect the delivery of certain services and outcomes. A well-functioning
mental health system will reduce the number of
people with mental illness who come into contact
with the criminal justice system. Policy statements
and recommendations in this chapter are intended
to point the way toward an effective mental health
service system.
Mental health systems in many states across
the country have undertaken examinations of the
services they offer, their funding mechanisms, and
the administrative systems needed to manage them
effectively. Systems have looked at overarching is-

sues such as the legislative mandate for the state
to provide services or the population to be targeted
for these services. They have also looked at the details of reimbursement and relationships with other
functions within state government. Legislative commissions have put some state systems under the
microscope of examination and in at least one state,
California, a state-funded independent oversight
agency has recently studied the quality and availability of mental health services.1
It would not be surprising if different states
taking different approaches came up with highly
varied recommendations for improvements to the
mental health system. However, as much as details
may vary, there is remarkable consistency in elements recommended by state commissions and
those described by the U.S. Surgeon General’s 1999
report on mental health.2 For a comprehensive examination of the way mental health services are
provided in this country, the Surgeon General’s re-

1. Little Hoover Commission, Being There: Making a Commitment to Mental
Health, Sacramento, CA, November, 2000.

Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse
and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999.

2. Office of the Surgeon General, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General,

246 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

port is the single best resource available. State
policymakers considering improvements in their
state-based systems should make themselves familiar with the contents of the report and consider
adapting many of its recommendations to fit the
needs uncovered by their efforts.
It is at the community level, however, that
mental health services are delivered, and it is there
that policies prove to be effective or not.
Policymakers and partners seeking change in community responses must be aware of the structure
of the community mental health system in the
towns and cities where they live. They should focus not just on what exists, but most intently on
what a community mental health system could look
like if all pieces were in place. Mental health experts in this country know what works and what
doesn’t. They agree for the most part on services
that should be available in community mental
health systems. Yet, for a variety of reasons, our
public mental health system has been unable to
implement much of what we know. The following
policy statements argue for and enumerate practices and approaches shown to be effective.

Finally, it is important to consider the role
played by funding in determining the scope and
depth of the public mental health system. While
this report does not provide sufficient analysis to
develop recommendations specific to funding issues, readers must bear in mind the funding ramifications inherent in many of the steps recommended herein.
At a minimum, it is important for those who
use this report to consider three funding issues as
they contemplate implementation of its recommendations. First, are there sufficient funds available
to the system for it to meet the expectations of its
various constituents? Second, are funds allocated
appropriately to ensure the system’s priorities are
met? And third, is there a mechanism to determine
whether allocated funds are achieving the outcomes
appropriators think they are purchasing?
As funding for public mental health services
has evolved, it has become an extremely complex
system. Each funding stream brings with it conditions and constraints that determine for whom and
for what services it can be used.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 247

Funding for Mental Health Services
Readers of this report and virtually everything written on this
nation’s public mental health system understand that funding
for services involves an exceptionally complicated mix of local,
state, and federal monies. To provide the full spectrum of services envisioned in this report, a local provider agency must
weave together funds derived from sources that may have different guidelines, fiscal years, and stated purposes. Some funding
comes to agencies on a per capita basis, some on a “fee for
service” or reimbursement basis. Some services are paid for
regardless of who accesses them, while most require clients to
qualify for programs by demonstrated poverty or disability.
Local support – In many communities, local tax levies pro-

vide a source of operating support for community mental health
agencies. Levels of community support can vary widely. Many
agencies serve several towns and therefore may draw support
from each of them. It is not at all unknown, however, for one
town to provide substantial support, while its neighbor contributes meagerly to the agency.
County support – A number of states have developed mental

health systems that are financed and managed at the county
level. In many of these states, this has been a conscious process of devolution. Again, there is considerable variation among
states that have developed county-based systems. Typically, state
general funds are provided to counties in block grants based on
formulas that may include population, anticipated need, and historic contribution. As with federal block grants to states, however, the idea is to promote local control.
State support – State general revenue funds are traditionally

the largest funding source for mental health services. For a variety of reasons, however, the share of state funds has been
falling for close to a decade, whether measured as the percentage of state budgets or as the portion of the total mental health
budget in a given state. At the same time, the amount of state
funding needed to provide the required “match” for federal Medicaid funds has continued to rise, as states have increased their
reliance on Medicaid for many services. In a typical state, for
example, general revenue funds for mental health services may
have made up approximately 32 percent of the overall public
mental health budget in 1996. By 2001, that portion had decreased to 19.5 percent. By contrast, the state Medicaid match
had risen from 20 percent to 29 percent of the overall budget
over the same period.

248 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Federal support – Each state receives a share of the Mental

Health Block Grant, which is administered through the Center
for Mental Health Services within the Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration. These Block Grant funds typically comprise approximately 1.5 percent to 3 percent of a state
mental health system’s budget. States also receive Substance
Abuse Block Grants, which make up a higher proportion of the
budget for substance abuse services. Even in systems where
mental health and substance abuse services are administered
together, however, the two Block Grant programs are subject to
rules that prevent their blending.
Federal entitlement programs provide the largest sources of funds
for the public mental health system. As already noted, the program that has the largest impact on the system is Medicaid. To
be eligible for Medicaid, most adults with mental illness must
qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Medicaid funding poses a great problem for states. While the
federal program does provide funding for some services used by
people with mental illness, it also comes with many restrictions.
To begin with, many people who need public mental health services do not qualify for Medicaid, which was created to address
the medical needs of needy and disabled persons. Secondly,
only certain services are eligible for Medicaid reimbursement.
Since these are services based on medical needs, many state
Medicaid authorities do not allow reimbursement for important
rehabilitative services required by people with mental illness.
Thirdly, Medicaid has never allowed for hospitalization of adults
aged 21 to 64 in large psychiatric institutions, although it pays
for costs in institutions used by people with developmental disabilities, for example. With fewer people than ever in institutions, this exclusion for “institutions for mental diseases” –
IMDs – may not seem to be a great problem. However, Medicaid
pays out large amounts for services to developmentally disabled
people receiving services in the community, on the theory that
the community services are preventing more costly institutionbased services. Mental health services do not qualify for such
“waivers” since there are no savings to be realized by diverting
adults with mental illness from noncovered institutional care.
Support also comes through programs administered by other
agencies in the federal government. Housing programs, for example, are funded through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), vocational rehabilitation programs are
administered by the Department of Education, and so forth. In
addition, qualifying veterans receive mental health services
through programs operated by the Veterans Health Administration of the Department of Veterans Affairs. In most states, these
programs are operated independently of the state-administered
public mental health system. It is often the case that if an individual receives services through a VA program, he or she may
not be deemed eligible for non-VA services.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 249

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

35

Policy Statement 35: Evidence-Based Practices

Evidence-Based Practices
POLICY STATEMENT #35

Promote the use of evidence-based practices and promising approaches in mental health treatment, services, administration, and
funding.

In recent years, enormous advances have been
made in treatments available for persons with mental illness. New medications have emerged; new services, supports, and interventions have proven effective. Researchers have conducted studies and
collected data—they have developed an “evidence
base”—which demonstrate the effectiveness and
applicability of some of these treatments and approaches. Gradually, a body of research literature
is growing to support the choice of particular interventions in certain situations. While some researchers might argue over the standards by which an intervention or treatment approach is judged to be
evidence-based, there is general agreement that the

term and designation imply that a given practice
has withstood rigorous scientific examination.
The public mental health system must take
steps to ensure that practice keeps pace with research. By ensuring that what is done meshes with
what is known, mental health policy makers and
providers can reduce the numbers of homeless individuals on the streets, the numbers of individuals
with mental illness whose behavior or crimes attract
the attention of police officers, and the numbers of
attempted and completed suicides by people who
have not received effective treatment for their mental illness.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Implement evidence-based practices into the public mental health
system.

Dr. Robert Drake, a national leader in the move toward evidence-based
practices, characterizes evidence-based practices as standardized treatments
and services subjected to controlled research involving objective outcome measures and more than one research group. Evidence-based practices are built on
scientific principles, and while they are supported by certain values and as-

250 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

sumptions they are not themselves values; rather, they are specific interventions and treatment models that have been shown to improve client functioning
and the course of severe mental illness.3
Among the evidence-based practices experts believe should be available in
the public mental health system are: appropriate use of all available psychotropic medications; assertive community treatment; supported employment; family psychoeducation; illness self-management; and integrated treatment for cooccurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders. This is by no means an
immutable list. In fact, it is expected that these currently identified practices
represent just the leading edge of a much larger body of evidence-based practices that will result in more reliable standards for mental health services. Promising practices exist in a variety of areas, including rehabilitative services, supported housing, and case management, among others. Properly implemented,
existing evidence-based practices have been shown to improve outcomes for
both the client and the system. There is every reason to believe that if they
were implemented more broadly, fewer people with mental illness would become involved in the criminal justice system.
Studies show, for example, that people who are prescribed the newer, “atypical” antipsychotic medications experience fewer debilitating side effects than
do clients taking the older classes of medications, with the result that they are
more likely to adhere to their treatment regimens and thus to see the course of
their illness improve. Yet the schizophrenia PORT study shows that the newer
medications are seriously underutilized, especially in African-American and
other minority populations, resulting in higher noncompliance with treatment
and the familiar consequences of untreated mental illness.4 The evidence shows
that mental health service providers should make the newer medications routinely available to those who would benefit from them.
The Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) model (also known as Program of Assertive Community Treatment, or PACT) has been the subject of
more than a quarter century of research showing its effectiveness with clients
who do not respond to less comprehensive approaches. Since its inception in
Madison, Wisconsin, in the 1970s, the ACT model has demonstrated that a
mobile, multidisciplinary team approach, with services available twenty-four
hours a day, significantly improves outcomes for persons with hard-to-treat
mental illnesses. In some sites, persons with histories of criminal justice involvement or deemed to be at risk of criminal justice involvement have been
identified as priority clients of ACT programs.
Despite the abundance of research that demonstrates ACT’s effectiveness,
providers and systems have until recently been reluctant to make the changes
necessary to implement the program. Research is less clear on the factors that

3. Robert E. Drake, presentation at National Corrections
Conference on Mental Illness, July 18 - 20, 2001, Boston,
MA.

"When it comes to suicide
and mental illness, the
gap between what we
know and what we do is
lethal."
KAY REDFIELD
JAMISON
Researcher, Author
Source: Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide, Knopf, 1999

4. A. F. Lehman and D.M. Steinwachs, “Translating Research into Practice: The Schizophrenia Patient Outcomes
Research Team (PORT) Treatment Recommendations,”
Schizophrenia Bulletin 24, 1998, pp. 1 -10.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 251

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

Policy Statement 35: Evidence-Based Practices

Replicating EvidenceBased Practices
Successfully

may have impeded implementation of ACT, but many providers note that it is
difficult to change staff habits, program configurations, and patterns for state
funding and federal reimbursement. In this way, the story of ACT is illustrative
of some of the hurdles to be overcome by all evidence-based practices. So, too, is
the recent upturn in ACT implementation, which stems from increased advocacy for the program at both the federal and grassroots levels, as well as clarification of reimbursement rules under Medicaid and other funding streams.
It is important to note that evidence-based practices are not all treatment
interventions. Supported employment, family psychoeducation, and illness selfmanagement are better seen as support techniques that ultimately allow a client to develop his or her self-reliance and personal strengths. Each in its own
way can be a critical element in a person’s recovery and ability to function, but
none of these practices can be seen as direct treatment.
The U.S. Surgeon General and others have made efforts to gather and
disseminate information about evidence-based practices, but it is apparent that
a huge gap remains between knowledge and practice, between what is known
through research and what is actually implemented in many public mental health
systems across the country. A particular challenge for public mental health stakeholders is to ensure that evidence-based practices become more broadly available and more seamlessly integrated into existing systems of care.
The Surgeon General’s 1999 report on mental health makes this challenge
particularly clear. “Exciting new research-based advances are emerging that
will enhance the delivery of treatments and services in areas crucial to consumers and families—employment, housing, and diversion of people with mental
disorders out of the criminal justice systems. Yet a gap persists in the broad
introduction and application of these advances in services delivery to local communities, and many people with mental illness are being denied the most upto-date and advanced forms of treatment.”5
Example: New York State Office of Mental Health

The departments of mental health in Illinois, Maryland, New York, Ohio, and Virginia,
among other states, have held or plan to convene conferences on evidence-based
practices. The most ambitious of these was held in New York by the Office of Mental
Health for the clear purpose of acquainting county-level policymakers and local service providers with national best-practice trends. The New York conference was the
first step in a projected series of initiatives designed to make adherence to best
practices a top priority in the New York public mental health system.

Example: NASMHPD Research Institute

The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) Research Institute is joining with the New Hampshire Dartmouth Psychiatric Research
Center and the Medical University of South Carolina to develop methods for the dis-

5. Office of the Surgeon General, Mental Health: A Report
of the Surgeon General.

6. The NASMHPD Research Institute (NRI) has recently
launched a center for evidence-based practices, performance measurement, and quality improvement. The full
range of the center’s activities is still under development.

252 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Researchers point out that the
history of ACT implementation
also raises another of the complex questions in the promotion
of evidence-based practices.
There are communities in which
providers claim to be operating
ACT teams. On examination, however, it is evident that the model
has been incompletely applied,
raising serious concerns about its
ability to live up to expectations
based on research documenting
the complete model. For example, the original ACT standards
call for a psychiatrist to participate as a full member of the
treatment team, not just as a consultant. Some agencies, however,
see an opportunity to save money
by restricting participation of the
psychiatrist. Inevitably, this
changes the nature of the team
and, thus, potentially erodes reliability of “ACT” in that community. Researchers remind us that
an evidence-based practice cannot succeed if its local implementation does not maintain fidelity
to the original model. Worse,
when a practice such as ACT is
corrupted and improperly applied,
results can be very different from
those intended.

semination of evidence-based practices. This effort, which various government and
foundation sources support, is intended to provide hands-on assistance with replication of proven interventions. At the same time, research is under way to determine
those factors that improve acceptance and implementation of proven models. This
work has tremendous implications for the future of effective mental health services.6

b

Incorporate recent findings, best practices, and promising practices into existing approaches at the agency level.

Identification and implementation of evidence-based practices should not
prevent innovation or the development of new practices. Many practices employed in the public mental health system have not yet been well researched.
This does not mean that they aren’t effective; in many cases, they simply have
not attracted the attention of researchers or they do not easily conform to traditional research methodologies. Researchers, providers, and practitioners should
be encouraged to continue to develop new methods to serve people with mental
illness who enter the system. Incentives for this activity should include an emphasis on outcomes in funding and contracting structures used for community
services. Reliance on performance measures that emphasize recovery and improvement in a person’s quality of life can lead to development of practices
geared towards these outcomes. Providers should incorporate innovative approaches and methods expected to achieve good outcomes, paired with appropriate evaluation methods, into the practices employed by their agencies.

c

Promote and support research in the government, academic, and
private sectors into the causes and treatment of mental illness.

Research into effective medications and services is vitally important to the
mental health field. Medical and rehabilitative advances of the past quarter
century have changed our society’s understanding of what is possible for someone with mental illness to achieve. Yet most researchers and practitioners agree
that much remains unknown about mental illness and its treatment. As the
Surgeon General’s report on mental health notes, the nation must continue to
invest in research at all levels to continue the trends benefiting many people
today.7
The federal government sets much of the nation’s agenda in basic, clinical,
and services research. The research agenda is broadly encompassing; it should
not overlook concerns of those people with mental illness who have contact
with the criminal justice system. Practitioners and policymakers at the community level should be familiar with the research process and should promote

See the NRI Web site at: http://nri.rdmc.org/ for more
details. NRI also presents an annual conference that has
evolved into a leading venue for services researchers and
practitioners to meet and exchange information.

7. Office of the Surgeon General, Mental Health: A Report
of the Surgeon General, pp. 453-54.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 253

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

Policy Statement 35: Evidence-Based Practices

continued support of federal agencies, such as the National Institute of Mental
Health and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
At the same time, the government should ensure that its policies and relationships with academic research centers and with industry promote research
expected to benefit the same core group of disabled individuals. Close attention
should be paid to provision of incentives that will ensure continuation of the
progress this field has experienced in recent decades.
The research community also has an obligation to guard the safety of any
human subjects involved in its programs. Mental health service providers must
work with researchers to ensure that clients who participate in research understand the potential risks and benefits of the programs in which they take part.

d

Employ effective mechanisms to disseminate research findings
and promote promising practices and evidence-based practices to
practitioners in the field.

Researchers and policymakers have noted the unfortunate truth that practice in the field too frequently fails to reflect what is known about the most
effective practices available. This wide gap between what is known and what is
in fact done results in lost lives, failed systems, and wasted resources.
Policymakers should ensure that practitioners employ effective mechanisms
for knowledge dissemination of findings regarding promising practices and evidence-based practices in the systems they oversee. These mechanisms might
include conferences, professional journals, academic partnerships, and regular
in-service training opportunities. Contracts should include bonuses or other
incentives for the use of evidence-based practices as well as for training and
other dissemination practices.
Example: Ohio Department of Mental Health; Illinois Office of
Mental Health

Some state public mental health systems are accepting the challenge and taking steps
to bridge the gap between research and practice. For example, the Ohio Department of
Mental Health has established “coordinating centers of excellence” responsible for
disseminating evidence-based or promising practices across the state. Eight of these
centers are planned with the hope that they can promote local initiative and raise
statewide quality measures. In Illinois, funding from the state Office of Mental Health
has helped to establish the Illinois Staff Training Institute for Psychiatric Rehabilitation at the University of Chicago.

254 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 255

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

36

Policy Statement 36: Integration of Services

Integration of Services
POLICY STATEMENT #36

Initiate and maintain partnerships between mental health and other
relevant systems to promote access to the full range of services and
supports, to ensure continuity of care, and to reduce duplication of
services.

People with serious mental illness generally
have service needs that extend well beyond core
mental health treatments such as medication and
counseling. This is especially true of people with cooccurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders (see Policy Statement 37: Co-Occurring Disorders) but applies equally to any person with
mental illness who has concerns related to health
care or other disabilities. In many cases, these needs
are best met by agencies or providers who can combine specific expertise in other areas with these or
other traditional mental health services. It is certainly easier for clients to access services through
providers able to link acute clinical services with
necessary support services such as housing assistance, vocational rehabilitation, and educational ser-

vices—and consumers cite ease of access as an important reason for sticking with or abandoning treatment. Similarly, when they are served by a single
agency or by a well-coordinated partnership, consumers usually feel they are treated with greater
respect. They are not asked for the same information again and again, and they may even be spared
filling out quite so many forms.
From a clinical standpoint, provision of coordinated services simply makes sense. Even when a
client sees different clinicians in the same agency,
it is more likely that charts and records are consistent and there is agreement on treatment goals. Coordinated care, a value expressed by many health
care providers, is much more achievable when all
related services are provided by the same agency.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Promote services and systems integration for co-occurrence of
mental illness and other chronic conditions.

While the disorders thought of most frequently as co-occurring are mental
illness and a substance abuse disorder, these are by no means the only disorders to overlap. Mental illness can also coincide with developmental disability

256 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

(mental retardation), traumatic brain injury, HIV, diabetes, or any disabling
condition or chronic illness. In each instance, it is now understood, the person
with co-occurring conditions meets with greater success if his or her needs are
considered as a whole and the disorders are treated in an integrated manner.
The goal of integrated treatment is to combine treatments for more than one
disorder at the level of clinical intervention. Ideally, the individual with cooccurring disorders should find services to be delivered seamlessly, “with a consistent approach, philosophy, and set of recommendations.”8
Example: Fountain House, New York City (NY)

Fountain House, in New York City, is the founding site and leading example of the
clubhouse model of rehabilitation. Its program has been replicated in communities
worldwide. It provides education, housing, employment programs, and social opportunities for its members. While clubhouses such as Fountain House do not directly
provide clinical treatment services, they generally have strong links with appropriate
agencies to ensure that members who need treatment are able to receive it. In operation since 1948, Fountain House itself is able to meet the needs of members who are
elderly or disabled by illness or disability. Ten percent of its members, for instance,
are deaf or hearing-impaired. Approximately half of its members have histories of
substance or alcohol abuse. And one in five are elderly. Like other successful and
long-standing models, Fountain House appears to meet the needs of its clients by
accepting them as they present themselves and working with them from that point
forward.

b

"The organization of services for adults with severe
mental disorders is the
linchpin of effective treatment. Since many mental
disorders are best treated
by a constellation of medical and psychosocial services, it is not just the
services in isolation, but
the delivery system as a
whole, that dictates the
outcome of treatment."
Source: Mental Health: A Report

of the Surgeon General, p. 285

Integrate primary health care and mental health care services.
People with mental illness are at greater risk for health problems than is

the general public. Smoking and poor nutrition are more prevalent among people
with mental illness. Because of poverty or disorganization associated with their
illness, people with mental illness are also less likely to visit primary health
care providers on a regular basis. As a result, people with mental illness are in
poorer health than the general population, and they rarely benefit from early
intervention for health problems. When they do receive treatment for health
problems, their conditions may already be in advanced states, so the treatment
itself is typically more involved and more costly.
Some mental health providers have explored integration of primary health
care and mental health care as a way to improve general health among people
with mental illness. A recent study has demonstrated the benefits of this approach.9 Subjects in the study were enrolled in a Veterans Affairs (VA) mental
health clinic, where some were randomized to receive primary care through an
integrated care initiative located in the mental health clinic, while others received medical care through the general medicine clinic. Those who received

8. Robert E. Drake et al., “Implementing Dual Diagnosis
Services for Clients with Severe Mental Illness,” Psychiatric Services 52:4, April 2001, pp. 469-76.

9. Benjamin G. Druss et al., “Integrated Medical Care for
Patients with Serious Psychiatric Illness,” Archives of General Psychiatry 58:9, September 2001, pp. 861-68.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 257

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

Policy Statement 36: Integration of Ser vices

primary care through the integrated care clinic had significantly better outcomes than those with mental illness who received primary and mental health
care in separate settings. Policymakers and providers should consider adopting
this approach to improve the general health of people with mental illness and
to lower the incidence of emergency interventions in that population.

c

Develop blended funding strategies to sustain comprehensive,
integrated services.

Funding is the major challenge faced by advocates and managers who wish
to start or maintain integrated or comprehensive service programs. Those who
have managed to start programs and operate them successfully do have experience that can be useful to others in the field. According to a report by the GAINS
Center, there are several strategies that increase the likelihood of success.10
Programs focusing on integrating several types of services in order to provide comprehensive treatment should identify a mix of funding sources that, in
a sense, reflects the blending of services. Reaching out to different funding
sources may appear to be more difficult than traditional mental health funding,
which usually relies on categorical funding streams. Approached creatively,
however, adopting a mix of services can also expand the range of funding possibilities. Approaching the development of services in this manner may also help
providers to better understand what they are looking for in services as well as
in funding and where the service deficiencies lie for the target population.

d

Adjust licensing and other regulatory functions to encourage
development and operation of comprehensive, integrated services.

Funding is by no means the only issue keeping systems from supporting
more effective services. Key providers in a given community, perhaps competing for funding, may operate with different philosophies, undermining opportunities for cross-training, effective communication, or service coordination. At
the same time, conflicting or confusing licensing regulations can thwart one
agency’s efforts to provide integrated services.
To achieve widespread service integration, policymakers will need to coordinate or consolidate regulatory and reporting mechanisms. The purpose is to
make creative and effective integrated service models available for people who
have mental illness and a variety of other needs.

10. National GAINS Center, Courage to Change, December
1999, pp. 17-22.

258 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Example: Assertive Community Treatment

The Assertive Community Treatment model (known as ACT or PACT) was developed
in Madison, Wisconsin, in the 1970s. Six states (Delaware, Indiana, Michigan, Rhode
Island, Texas, Wisconsin) currently have statewide ACT programs. Nineteen states
have at least one or more ACT pilot programs in their state. It is a service-delivery
model that provides comprehensive, locally based treatment to people with serious
and persistent mental illness. Unlike many other community-based programs, ACT is
not a linkage or brokerage case-management program that connects individuals to
mental health, housing, or rehabilitation agencies or services. Rather, it provides highly
individualized services directly to consumers. ACT recipients receive the
multidisciplinary, round-the-clock staffing of a psychiatric unit, delivered in the “real
world” settings of their homes, local coffee shops, or other places they may frequent.
To have the competencies and skills to meet a client’s multiple treatment, rehabilitation, and support needs, ACT team members are trained in psychiatry, social work,
nursing, substance abuse, and vocational rehabilitation. Recently, ACT teams have
placed a greater emphasis on inclusion of consumers as treatment team members,
either in the traditional professional positions or as peer counselors able to communicate more effectively with a team’s clients. The ACT team provides these necessary
services 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. To make ACT programs
more accessible, states have adopted funding strategies approved by Medicaid for this
purpose. As part of their contracting process, states monitor ACT programs for compliance with certain agreed-upon practice standards.

Example: Village Integrated Service Agency, Long Beach (CA)

The Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach was initially developed through
state legislation (1989) that attempted to remove administrative and funding barriers
from the delivery of comprehensive, individualized mental health services. The three
basic elements of Village’s program design are collaborative case-management teams,
case-rated funding, and a psychosocial rehabilitation/recovery philosophy. As in the
ACT model, services at the Village are primarily delivered to the client wherever he or
she is: at home, on the job, in the supermarket. Teams of clinicians work with each
client and bring complementary skills to the process. Case-rated funding is an important principle because it is focused on outcomes rather than on delivery of units of
service. The overarching recovery philosophy imbues staff and clients with a willingness to seek the rewards that come with higher risks, knowing that support will be
available when needed. The Village offers a clear, single point of responsibility for
everyone it serves and provides coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 259

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

37

Policy Statement 37: Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders
POLICY STATEMENT 37

Promote system and services integration for co-occurring mental
health and substance abuse disorders.

In the view of many practitioners and researchers, co-occurrence of mental illness and substance
use disorders in individuals is so common as to be
the norm rather than the exception. In fact, it is
estimated that 75 percent of people with mental illness within the criminal justice system meet criteria for drug and/or alcohol abuse or dependence;
some cite figures indicating that up to 90 percent of
those behind bars with either mental illness or substance abuse disorders have co-occurring disorders.11 As a result, increased attention has been

population. For the past 15 years, extensive efforts
have been made to develop integrated models of care
that bring together mental health and substance
abuse treatment. Recent evidence from more than
a dozen studies shows that comprehensive integrated efforts help persons with dual disorders reduce substance use and sustain mental health recovery. Integrated approaches are also associated
with a reduction in hospital utilization, psychiatric
symptomatology, and other problematic negative
outcomes, including rearrest.12

given to identification of the most effective models
for the provision of services to the “dually diagnosed”

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Employ an integrated approach to treatment of persons with cooccurring mental illness and substance abuse disorders.

While there is widespread agreement that models featuring integrated services for individuals with co-occurring disorders are far more effective than
those delivering services in a fragmented or sequential fashion, access to integrated programs is not available in most localities.

11. Teplin and Abram, “Co-occurring Disorders Among
Mentally Ill Jail Detainees,” pp. 1036-45; see also Policy
Statement 17: Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates.

12. Robert E. Drake et al., Psychiatric Services,
pp. 469-76.

260 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Intensive Case
Management

Barriers to integration exist at policy, program, and clinical levels. The
terms “substance abuse disorder” and “mental illness” are often integrated under the phrase “behavioral disorders.” Because substance abuse disorders can
both mimic and exacerbate psychiatric disorders, the differentiation of what
may be contributing to abnormalities in mood, thinking, or behavior is a difficult task requiring sophisticated assessment strategies. It is unfair, and unwise, to put the burden of differential diagnosis on law enforcement, the courts,
corrections, or community corrections staff. The responsibility for assessing
and responding to the behavioral needs of arrestees, defendants, inmates, and
parolees must rest with community behavioral health providers. These providers must offer an integrated behavioral health service package to the criminal
justice system if the shared vision of effective treatment and efficient justice is
to be achieved.
The essence of integration is that the same clinicians, working in the same
setting, provide and coordinate both mental health and substance abuse interventions. For the dually diagnosed individual or the referring agent, the services appear seamless. Clinicians take responsibility for combining the interventions to address the individual’s clinical and legal circumstances, and the
recommendations are consistent with the best practices of both the mental health
and addictions fields. Neither disorder is considered primary, and it is recognized that successful resolution of the symptoms of both the addiction disorder
and the nonaddiction psychiatric disorder are interdependent on integrated
treatment strategies.
Integration involves modifications of traditional approaches to both mental health and substance abuse treatment. While there are numerous “right”
ways to deliver services, and dual diagnosis programs differ from one another
in many ways, successful programs incorporate several critical components that
make them comprehensive.
Effective integrated programs do more than add a cross-trained staff member or a dual diagnosis group to existing traditional programming. Experts have
defined comprehensive programs by the presence of intensive case management
models, motivational interventions to advance clinical goals, the involvement of
family and natural supports, and a long-term treatment perspective.13

Intensive case management is
often accomplished through the
use of multidisciplinary teams
that include both mental health
and substance abuse specialists
who share responsibility for treatment and for training each other.
Adhering to the principles of assertive community treatment that
are designed for individuals who
are difficult to engage in traditional services, intensive case
management services perform
outreach to the client’s home (or
street outreach if the client is
homeless) and natural support
system. Even where there are
court-ordered conditions for treatment, noncompliance may be an
early feature, due to the disabling
effects of co-occurring disorders,
and assertive outreach may be
required for some individuals.
Without such efforts, clients may
be expected to drop out of treatment, with ensuing revocation or
rearrest.

Example: Dependency Health Services and Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health, Yakima (WA)

The Integrated Crisis Stabilization and Detoxification Programs in Yakima are two
separate programs that work in close collaboration. Each has learned to offer integrated services to persons with co-occurring substance abuse and mental health diagnoses. The two programs complement each other and offer “seamless” programming.14 The staffs in the two programs, which share a medical director, together
initiate joint clinical interventions. They also collaborate with other agencies, including
the hospital (for ambulance response and medical care) and local law enforcement.
13. Ibid.
14. James B. Bixler and Brice D. Emery, Successful Programs for Individuals with Co-Occurring Mental Health and

Substance Abuse Disorders: Examples from Five States,
National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors, National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse
Directors, August 2000.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 261

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

b

Policy Statement 37: Co-Occurring Disorders

Recognize that relapse is a common feature in the experience of
many individuals with co-occurring disorders.

Effective programs accept that recovery from dual disorders is a long-term
process. Both mental illnesses and addictive disorders are characterized by
periods of higher functioning interrupted by periods with disabling symptoms.
Recovery takes place over months and years. Scarce resources should not be
diverted from long-term community-based care to high-cost, short, intensive
interventions. Relapses are anticipated and contingency plans are made to
minimize the duration and severity of the relapse. Close collaboration with
community corrections staff is critical to ensure the responses to relapses serve
both public safety and clinical goals.

c

Integrate mental illness and substance abuse treatment policy,
funding, and regulation at the federal, state, and agency levels in
order to achieve desired clinical outcomes.

To facilitate service integration, there need to be integrative policies and
administrative support at the system level. State, county, and local mental
health authorities either promulgate, or are bound by, financing mechanisms
and regulations that impede integrative service delivery. In most states, for
example, licenses for mental health and substance abuse facilities are handled
by two different state agencies with separate regulatory, financial, and oversight procedures. Frontline providers are often caught between doing what is
clinically indicated and what is financially reimbursable with the dual diagnosis client suffering the consequences of ineffective care. New interorganizational
structures and policies are required to enable the seamless provision of requisite services. These structural changes do not necessarily require more resources, and integration has the potential to be cost efficient.15
Advocates and practitioners agree that much can be done at the systems
level to remove impediments and ease the provision of integrated mental health
and substance abuse services. Supported by the federal Substance Abuse and
Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in June 1998, the National
Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) and the
National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors (NASADAD)
conducted a formal dialogue intended to explore the issues related to the provision of integrated services. A report on this dialogue was issued by the two
organizations in March 1999. In signaling their desire to collaborate in finding
solutions, they have initiated a process each hopes will bring movement at both
the federal and state levels.16 More recently, the SAMHSA work plan for 2002

15. Kenneth Minkoff, "Developing Standards of Care for
Individuals with Co-occurring Psychiatric and Substance
Use Disorders Psychiatric Services," Psychiatric Services
52:5, May 2001, pp. 597-99.

16. National Dialogue on Co-occurring Mental Health and
Substance Abuse Disorders, June 16-17, 1998, Washington,
D.C., sponsored by the National Association of State Mental
Health Program Directors (NASMHPD) and the National

262 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"...dual diagnosis is an
expectation, not an exception."
KENNETH MINKOFF
Medical Director, Choate
Health Management Care,
Assistant Clinical
Professor of Psychiatry,
Harvard University, MA
Source: "Dual Diagnosis:An

Integrated Model for the Treatment of People with Co-occurring
Psychiatric and Substance Disorders," Available at:
www.dualdiagnosis.org/library/
dual_network/
minkoff_summer_01.html

and beyond gives the highest priority to addressing the issues involved in providing services for people with co-occurring disorders.17
It is not surprising that financial questions are among the thorniest facing
policymakers seeking integration of substance abuse and mental health services. For example, the federal Substance Abuse Block Grant and Mental Health
Block Grant are separate funding streams administered in different centers
within SAMHSA. They often flow to different agencies in a given state and, in
turn, finance quite different providers and services at the community level.
Because integration of such federal funding brings with it the possibility of a
significant realignment of resources throughout the system, many who would
be affected are moving towards integration with great caution.
It should also be noted that the use of illicit drugs—and, more specifically,
arrest for drug-related crimes—may result in limitations on an individual’s
ability to receive important federal benefits such as SSI or to qualify for housing under many public housing programs. Because of the high prevalence of cooccurring substance abuse and mental health disorders, many of those who
come into contact with the criminal justice system are people whose past activities have left them unable to access various federal benefit programs. This
circumstance places an additional strain on state systems and local agencies
seeking reimbursement for integrated services provided to people with co-occurring disorders.

Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors
(NASADAD).

17. Charles Curie, SAMHSA Administrator, as reported in
Mental Health Weekly 12: 13, April 1, 2002.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 263

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

38

Policy Statement 38: Housing

Housing
POLICY STATEMENT #38

Develop and enhance housing resources that are linked to appropriate levels of mental health supports and services.

As public mental health policy has moved away
from reliance on institutions and toward community integration, policymakers, providers, and advocates have been forced to confront the many obstacles facing persons with mental illness who seek
safe and affordable places to live. While some of
the difficulties encountered by this population are
common to all who live on low or moderate incomes,
other challenges are more directly related to the experience of mental illness. In any case, in order to
consider steps a community might take to improve
housing options, it is first necessary to understand
the existing obstacles.
The price of housing stock, particularly in major cities, has risen well beyond the ability of people
with low or moderate incomes to pay for it. Since
people in the public mental health system are among
the poorest in the nation, they are hard hit by this
crisis in affordable housing. In 2000, there was no
housing market in the country where a person with
a disability receiving SSI benefits could afford to rent
a one-bedroom or efficiency unit.18
Federal housing subsidies for individuals with
mental illness do not adequately compensate for the
inflated private housing market. In 1992 and 1996,

Congress passed laws permitting public and assisted-housing providers to designate housing as
“elderly only.” This resulted in many “non-elderly”
adults disabled by mental illness no longer having
access to a major portion of the affordable rental
units in this country. Unfortunately, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
officials have also promoted policies in recent years
that have failed to keep pace with the needs of lowincome people with disabilities who wish to rent affordable apartments. The Section 811 Supportive
Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program has
had its funding reduced from $346 million in 1991
to $217 million in the most recent budget.19
Federal housing policy makes it especially difficult for ex-offenders with mental illness to secure
public housing assistance. At the most basic level,
housing subsidies such as Section 8 are available
only for the working poor—applicants must have
federal income tax forms to be eligible. Because the
large majority of individuals with mental illness are
unemployed (70 percent to 90 percent) most do not
qualify for such programs.20
In addition, public
housing authorities, Section 8 providers, and other
federally assisted housing programs are permitted,

18. “Priced Out in 2000: The Crisis Continues,” Technical Assistance Collaborative,
Inc., Boston, MA and Consortium for Citizens with Disabilities Housing Task Force,
Washington, D.C., June 2001.

19. NAMI, Housing Position Paper, available at: www.nami.org/update/
unitedhousing.html

264 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

20. Most reports agree on the statistic that between 70-90% of individuals with

and in some cases required, to deny housing to individuals with certain criminal histories.21 For example, if an individual is evicted from public housing for drug-related criminal activity, he or she is
barred from reapplying to live there for three years.
Because many people with mental illnesses have cooccurring substance use disorders, these restrictions
affect this population disproportionately. People with
mental illness who have histories of any kind of
criminal justice involvement also frequently find
themselves “jumped over” by others without such
histories on waiting lists for assisted housing.
Even without the barriers to receiving federal
assistance, the majority of individuals involved in
the criminal justice system—regardless of whether
they have a mental illness—have limited resources
to secure adequate housing. For example, most exoffenders leave prison without enough money for a
security deposit on an apartment.22 Furthermore,
private landlords may require prospective tenants
to disclose employment, financial, and criminal histories, as well as mental health information, and may
exclude individuals based on these characteristics.
Families and friends are an important housing
resource for individuals with mental illness. When
these individuals become involved in the criminal
justice system their relationships with families and
friends are often strained. Families living in public
housing may be concerned that allowing an ex-offender to resume residency there will compromise
their own housing eligibility (see federal restrictions
above). More generally, family and friends may feel

incapable of or uninterested in helping an individual
who has decompensated sufficiently to become involved in the criminal justice system.
Even if individuals with mental illness who
have been involved in the criminal justice system
are able to tap family or friends as a housing resource, their reintegratin into the community can
be problematic. If an individual with mental illness
is simply returning to the environment that fostered
his or her involvement with the criminal justice system in the first place, there is a good chance that
this reintroduction will result in a rapid return to
the behavior that originally caused them to offend.
Individuals with mental illness who are able to
locate housing often have difficulty sustaining residency. Sustained residency is usually predicated
on the provision of support services (mental health,
substance abuse, employment, etc.) in conjunction
with housing. Housing and support services can be
linked in a variety of ways.
Responses to the housing shortage for people
with mental illness differ according to numerous
variables: location (group vs. single-occupancy), level
of supervision, funding source, intensity of integration with support services, intensity of case management, and others. It is difficult to identify discrete housing “models”; each approach tends to be
unique to the community where the housing is provided. The recommendations below are an attempt
to identify some of the common characteristics of
successful efforts to develop housing options for individuals with mental illness.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Form community-based partnerships to develop comprehensive
solutions to housing for persons with mental illness.

Lack of affordable housing is a community problem. Just as there is no one
cause for the shortage of housing, no one agency can possibly assume responsi-

mental illness are unemployed. See www.gladnet.org/
marrone.htm

21. Travis et al., From Prison to Home, pp. 35-6.
22. Ibid., pp. 35-6.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 265

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

Policy Statement 38: Housing

bility for addressing the problem. Effective solutions require partnership of the
most inclusive kind. Local, community-based agencies are almost always the
most effective at joining together to access housing funding available from state,
federal, and, sometimes, private sources. Local agencies are also best positioned
to understand the community’s particular need and, most important, to create
partnerships that can provide necessary housing and supports for people with
mental illnesses.
In every community, collaboration among service providers, housing developers, lenders, and elected or appointed officials is critical to successful development of housing for people with mental illness, especially those with histories of criminal justice involvement. Local mental health service providers
should actively seek and form partnerships to meet this most pressing of needs.
Example: Community Mental Health Centers, Vermont

In Vermont, every Community Mental Health Center (CMHC) has hired a housing
coordinator. These coordinators work with staff from state housing agencies, public
housing authorities, nonprofit developers, and others to develop cross-system, collaborative efforts to provide housing for individuals with mental illness. CMHC housing coordinators also work with private landlords, nonprofit developers, case managers and others to ensure that clients are on Section 8 waiting lists, tenant/landlord
disputes are settled amicably, and housing development efforts consider the needs of
the mentally ill population.23

b

Establish leadership and coordination at the state level to provide
technical assistance and ensure access to resources.

State mental health agencies should examine their role in housing development. Depending on the structure of state mental health systems, state mental health agencies may be able to require provider agencies to participate in
local housing collaborations. More likely, it is through force of leadership and,
especially, provision of incentives that state mental health agencies can assume
a role in meeting this critical need. A relatively small matching grant or provision of technical assistance in completing often complicated applications can be
crucial contributions to local housing initiatives.
Although solutions to the housing shortage for people with mental illness
ultimately must be locally based, state agencies should encourage local providers to address this issue, and they should facilitate such projects with assistance
and funding. Creation of a state-level office that concentrates on housing for
persons with mental illness indicates the centrality of housing in the service
array.

23. Elizabeth Edgar, and Anne D. Lezak, Preventing
Homelessness Among People with Serious Mental Illness:
A Guide for States, National Resource Center on
Homelessness and Mental Illness, April 1996, pp. 31-34.

24. Ibid., pp.26-28.
25. Dennis P. Culhane, Stephen Metraux, and Trevor
Hadley, “The Impact of Supportive Housing for Homeless

266 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

"People with [mental illness and addiction who
are] on the street...see
acutely the need for housing, for a place to feel safe
and secure, before they're
even ready to consider
treatment. Recovery starts
when you have something
you care about, a place
where you can go."
DR. SAM TSEMBERIS
Executive Director,
Pathways to Housing, NY
Source: Christina McCarroll,

"Pathways to Housing the Homeless," The Christian Science Monitor May 1, 2002 edition, available
at: www.csmonitor.com/2002/
0501/p11s02-lihc.html

Development of housing for individuals with serious mental illness is a
complex challenge for local communities. By providing centralized expertise,
state offices can help local agencies learn to negotiate regulations and requirements related to zoning, property acquisition, licensing, federal funding mechanisms, and the many other issues that arise in housing development.
Similarly, state housing offices can locate disparate funding sources and
assist local communities in accessing them.
Example: Office of Housing and Service Environments, Ohio Department
of Mental Health

The Ohio Department of Mental Health has created an Office of Housing and Service
Environments. In 1989, this office, which has since been sub-divided into three
offices, began to redirect some funds, formerly used in the development and renovation of hospitals, to housing development. The DMH Office of Housing also provides
technical assistance to local community health boards to create independent corporations to develop housing for individuals with serious mental illnesses.24

c

Institute linkages between housing options and service availability.
Almost all successful housing initiatives for individuals with mental ill-

ness are integrated with the provision of other services, including mental health,
employment, crisis management, and substance abuse. This model of “supportive housing” recognizes that housing issues must not be viewed as isolated
from the other needs of this population; housing should be viewed as part of a
broader model of integrated treatment for individuals with mental illnesses
(see Policy Statement 36: Integration of Services). Research has shown repeatedly that retention rates for housing with services are considerably higher (often twice as high) than for housing that is not linked to services.25
The issue of whether services should be a mandatory condition of receiving
housing is contentious. Some housing developers favor agreements that require individuals with mental illness to have their adherence to treatment closely
monitored by case managers as a condition of receiving housing. Some service
providers and mental health advocates hold strong philosophical positions
against requiring acceptance of services as a condition of housing. This issue
remains difficult and divisive.
In all cases, availability and use of service models such as Assertive Community Treatment can go a long way toward meeting the needs of both tenant
and landlord in most housing situations.

People with Severe Mental Illness on the Utilization of the
Public Health, Corrections, and Emergency Shelter Systems,” Housing Policy Debate 12, 2001.

26. See www.omh.state.ny.us/omhweb/omhq/q0901/
Pathways.html

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 267

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

Policy Statement 38: Housing

Example: Pathways to Housing, New York City (NY)

In 1992 the New York State Office of Mental Health established the Pathways to
Housing program, which seeks to relocate individuals from shelters and the streets
into permanent housing. Crucial to the Pathways mission is the integration of intensive services, based on the ACT model.26 Pathways to Housing favors the eradication
of all restrictions for housing clients; employment, substance abuse treatment, life
skills, and other services are aggressively offered, but not required of program participants.

Example: Corporation for Supportive Housing (CA)

The California branch of the Corporation for Supportive Housing has established the
Health, Housing, and Integrated Services Network. This initiative brings together four
county public health departments with more than 20 different nonprofit service providers (mental health, substance abuse, HIV/AIDS, employment, and others) to link a
broad array of services to housing.27

Many programs that provide housing to individuals with mental illness
are linked to case management services. These services may be provided by
community mental health providers, the housing providers themselves, or other
nonprofit agencies. The intensity of case management, i.e., the volume of cases
each case manager handles, varies widely. Case management is often crucial in
linking a client to the services that are integrated with housing providers. Many
individuals with mental illness who have been involved in the criminal justice
system have had bad experiences with treatment programs, and without a dedicated case manager they may not successfully reach out to these services, even
if these services are provided in conjunction with housing. Case managers are
also extremely important in helping consumers deal with crisis situations. (See
Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility for discussion of the Thresholds Jail Program and Policy Statement 14: Adjudication
for discussion of the Nathaniel Project; both programs provide case management and help connect to supportive housing individuals with mental illness
who have been involved with the criminal justice system.)

d

Blend funding for development and operation of stable, affordable
housing.

The most successful housing partnerships are those that identify several
funding sources that will allow them to make housing affordable for people
with disabilities such as mental illness. Since funding sources frequently impose restrictions on the use of their available funds, this blending of funding
sources may be the only way to gain access to funds for both development and
operation of properties. When considering funding for housing this population,

27. See www.csg.org/whohhis.html
28. A recent study of more than 3,500 formerly homeless
individuals with mental illness involved in a New York City
supportive housing program showed that the per annum
costs of the housing program were only slightly higher than

the service costs typically accrued by the individuals. The
supportive housing model cost $13,750 per placement per
year and resulted in a cost reduction of $12,145 per placement per year. Dennis Culhane et al., “The Impact of Supportive Housing.”

268 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

it is important to remember that supportive housing for individuals with mental illness has proven very cost effective when compared with the cost of services (shelter, criminal justice, hospitals, etc.) typically provided to individuals
who are homeless and have a mental illness.28
Example: Common Ground (NY)

Common Ground, a New York City nonprofit organization that develops and manages
large, congregate, supported housing properties, receives funding from more than 30
different sources. Their funders include foundations, private sector corporations, the
New York City Departments of Housing, Human Resources, and Homeless Services,
and the New York State Office of Mental Health, among others.29

There are many federal programs that can be used for people with mental
illness. These include: HOME, Community Development Block Grant, Section
8 rental assistance (including Section 8 Mainstream Housing Opportunities for
Persons with Disabilities), McKinney/Vento Homeless Assistance, Section 811
Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities, and Housing Opportunities
for People with AIDS (HOPWA). Each program comes with its own requirements and restrictions, but those interested in developing housing in their communities should become familiar with these options.30
Example: Connecticut Local Housing Authorities

During the 1990s, local housing authorities in Connecticut received more than $40
million from HUD, primarily from the McKinney grants program, to support the provision of housing and services for individuals with mental illness. The state aggressively educated local housing authorities on how to apply for the grants, and fostered
collaboration between state mental health service providers and local housing authorities.31 The federal Shelter Plus Care Program offers substantial funds specifically
targeted to individuals who are homeless and disabled, including those with serious
mental illness. Title VII of the National Affordable Housing Act of 1990 amended the
McKinney Act to create this grant program. The program provides rental assistance
but requires a local match of an equal or greater amount of services.

Some states have found ways to make funds available for development of
housing for people with low incomes, including those with disabilities. Bond
issues, trust funds, and one-time appropriations have been used for these purposes in different states. For example, Oregon recently negotiated the sale of
its former Dammash State Hospital. A 1999 statue establishes a trust fund
with the sale proceeds; 70 percent of the trust fund interest will be used to
finance community-based housing options for individuals with mental illness.32
Agencies such as Housing and Mortgage Finance Corporations may also have
state-specific programs that encourage housing developers to tap various funding sources.

29. See www.commonground.org/docs/Overview/
funders.html.
30. See www.hud.gov.

31. Robert J. Burns, Strengthening the Mental Health
Safety Net: Issues and Innovations, NGA Center for Best
Practices, p. 7.
32. Ibid., p. 7.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 269

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

e

Policy Statement 38: Housing

Develop an array of housing to meet the varied needs of individuals with mental illness.

Typically, community response is most favorable to development of housing that mixes people with mental illness with others who may require no support and/or who will rent at market rates. Most of the programs mentioned
above are predicated on development of such “integrated” (also known as “scattered-site”) housing. A building with eight units, for example, may include just
one or two units for persons with mental illness. Developers and most community mental health agencies frown on development of properties with many
units, all of which are to be occupied by people with mental illness. Such “congregate” housing is a target for community opposition and is seen by many
advocates as inimical to the concepts of community integration and recovery.
Just the same, it should be pointed out that some communities have seen opportunities arise for development or redevelopment projects that are targeted
exclusively to people with mental illness. Still, such projects are growing less
common.33
Example: Project Renewal (NY)

Project Renewal, a New York City based nonprofit, has facilitated the construction of
both “integrated” and “congregate” housing throughout the city. One of its several
congregate housing facilities, Renewal at Clinton Residence, opened in 1990 and houses
and provides services for 57 individuals with mental illness who were formerly homeless. Project Renewal also maintains more than 90 units of “scattered-site housing,”
some of which are occupied by graduates from Project Renewal-run treatment programs. Rent subsidies are provided by HUD and federal section 8 programs, among
other funding sources.

It should be remembered that people with mental illness fall at different
points on a continuum. For some, independent housing with only occasional
supports is appropriate. For others, intensely supervised housing is necessary
to ensure their safety and success in the community. It would be a mistake for
a community to institute a housing plan that doesn’t account for this range of
needs. To ensure appropriate housing development, a community should assess the housing options available as well as indications of need, such as waiting lists for section 8 housing or the numbers of people with mental illness
found to be inadequately housed in shelters, with relatives, or, indeed, in jails
or prisons.

33. Another reason for the decline in popularity of congregate housing is that, compared with some integrated
housing models, congregate housing can be more expensive. This is due in large part to the extensive in-house

services available, especially having 24-hour trained mental
health staff on-hand. Yves Ades, director, the Nathaniel
Project, Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment
Services (CASES), interview, December 20001.

270 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 271

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

39

Policy Statement 39: Consumer and Family Member Involvement

Consumer and Family Member Involvement
POLICY STATEMENT #39

Involve consumers and families in mental health planning and service
delivery.

People whose lives have been affected by mental illness develop a vast reservoir of experience that
can be put to constructive use to meet their immediate needs, those of their peers, and, ultimately,
those of the mental health system. In still too many
places, this reservoir remains untapped, and consumers and families have little meaningful involvement in determining the direction of services and a
system that are meant to meet their needs.
In the 1980s, Congress recognized the value of
including consumers and families in mental health

services planning when it created the precursors to
today’s statewide mental health planning and advisory councils. A major requirement for the composition of the councils is that no more than 50 percent
of their membership be drawn from the ranks of
professionals or state administrators. The intention
is to make councils hospitable to consumers and family members and, in fact, consumers and family
members serve on these federally mandated councils in every state.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Build consumer and family participation into all levels of the service delivery system.

Inclusion of consumers and family members at the county and/or local level
is more variable than at the state level. County boards, for example, may or
may not require participation by consumers and family members. Many local
agencies include consumers and families on their governing boards or on agency
planning committees, and such inclusion is encouraged by national associations. Still, consumers and family members in many areas report their frustration with what they view as a lukewarm commitment to this principle, espe-

272 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

cially in instances where they feel their inclusion reflects tokenism rather than
an openness to their experience or perceptions of the system.
Example: National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare

The National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare (NCCBH) includes the
following among the principles of governance it suggests to its members: “Governing
boards should include members of or access to the views and input of individuals
who are consumers and/or family members of consumers of the organization’s services.”34

b

Include consumers and family members in service delivery.

Consumers and family members can also make important contributions to
service delivery. Evidence is mounting to demonstrate the effectiveness of consumer-operated support services, for example. Systems that employ people with
mental illness to help others gain insight into their illness and build strategies
that can help them cope with it report success as measured by lowered use of
crisis services. Services such as “warmlines,” which make it possible for a person needing support to prevent an exacerbation of symptoms by talking with
someone who has had direct experience with mental illness him-or herself, have
been shown to succeed in a variety of settings. “Drop-in centers” are consumeroperated sites where people with serious mental illness can meet others and
participate in social, vocational, and educational activities.
Similarly, some programs employ consumers to act as “peer educators” who
provide generalized information about coping with mental illness in a manner
that is authenticated by their own experiences. Peer educators frequently run
groups for consumers at mental health service agencies in which they discuss
issues of common concern. By removing the experience of mental illness from a
wholly clinical approach, peer educator programs often allow people to make
connections with one another and understand how to deal with their illness in
a more individualized way. Consumer-operated services such as these are seen
as part of the continuum of services that also includes professional services;
they are not to be seen as a replacement for the professional system.

"Peer provided supports
and services are a vast
untapped resource for
recovery when it comes to
community based resources for diversion from
the criminal justice system. And those supports
and services are equally
valuable for persons
transitioning back into the
community."
TOM LANE
Consumer Activist/
Advocate, Director,
Forest Park Drop In
Center at South Florida
State Hospital, FL

Example: Harbor Inn Residential Facility, Boston (MA)

In Boston peer educators every week visit Harbor Inn, a residential facility on Long
Island in Boston Harbor. They meet with residents who are in transition from hospitals
to community settings. Many residents have histories of involvement with the criminal justice system. Educators, who themselves are in treatment for mental illness,
show videotapes or share written materials that provoke group discussions of issues
such as housing, basic living skills, and tobacco use that are relevant to the lives of
those in the residence.

34. Principles for Behavioral Healthcare Delivery, National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare,
Rockville, MD, 2001.

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Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

Policy Statement 39: Consumer and Family Member Involvement

Example: Assertive Community Treatment Programs

Assertive Community Treatment programs in many locations around the country have
recently added positions on their professional teams that are intended to be filled by
consumers of services. Sometimes known as “peer counselors” or “peer advocates,”
the consumers who fill these positions provide insight into the experience of mental
illness and recovery that professionals without a consumer background are unable to
offer.

c

Ensure that people with mental illness are accessing the full range
of entitlements for which they are eligible (e.g., SSI, SSDI).

For many people, access to appropriate services is determined by their
ability to access the health benefits and other entitlements for which they are
eligible. People with mental illness who are found to be disabled by their illness
or who have little or no income as a result of their disability are eligible for an
array of income and reimbursement benefits. Many mental health and addiction services provided by community agencies are reimbursable through Medicaid and Medicare, which are generally available to people who qualify for
Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Social Security Disability Income (SSDI).
Qualification for income support also can lead to eligibility for housing supports. In any case, income support through SSI and SSDI provides funds with
which an individual can pay rent and meet other basic needs. Other valuable
benefits programs for which persons with mental illness may be eligible include Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), food stamps, and benefits available to veterans through the Veterans Administration.
Rules and procedures for accessing disability entitlement programs are
difficult for many with mental illness to understand. There is also a shortage of
staff at community mental health agencies who are trained to provide assistance to clients who may qualify for either entitlement program. It is more
common than not for first-time applications for entitlements to be denied, at a
minimum causing a delay in benefits for qualified applicants. Because these
entitlements are frequently the only legitimate source of income for many with
mental illness, such delays can lead to homelessness and such “survival crimes”
as shoplifting and bill evasion.
The issue of accessing government benefits is also examined in the sections of this report that look at the release of people with mental illness from
jails and their reentry to the community from prison (see Policy Statement 13:
Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility and Policy Statement 21: Development of Transition Plan). Because many people with mental illness coming out of jail or prison have no other means of support, linkage with appropriate government benefits in a timely manner can make the difference between
success and failure in the community. As discussed elsewhere in the report,

274 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

mental health provider agencies must work with partners in jails and prisons
to establish protocols that will result in people with mental illness gaining speedy
access to appropriate benefits.
Mental health agencies must train staff to provide assistance with applications for SSI and SSDI and the follow-up that is so often needed to secure these
benefits. Further, they must ensure that case managers, employment counselors, rehabilitation therapists, and others who may be working with clients to
secure employment are familiar with the each client’s benefits profile. An increase in income can mean an end to benefits. When clients are working, especially when they are doing so through “transitional employment” or “supported
employment” programs, staff should make sure that their transition does not
leave them without health insurance or sufficient funds for housing and food.
The rules and regulations applied by the Social Security Administration to these
programs can create challenges for staff to provide guidance to clients on entitlement and benefit matters. It can also be time-consuming. Training and
prioritization of this service are necessary if clients are to access supports intended to help them at a difficult time in their lives.
Example: International Center for Clubhouse Development

The International Center for Clubhouse Development (ICCD) publishes standards for
programs that receive its certification. Among its most firmly held principles is the
importance of employment in the recovery of clubhouse “members.” In the ICCD
standards are two that are meant to encourage training and consistency in maintaining
the benefits of members who are working in transitional or more competitive employment. Clubhouses receiving ICCD certification are expected to provide sufficient training to ensure appropriate access to benefits by clubhouse members.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 275

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

40

Policy Statement 40: Cultural Competency

Cultural Competency
POLICY STATEMENT #40

Ensure that racial, cultural, and ethnic minorities receive mental
health services that are appropriate for their needs.

Among the many barriers to appropriate treatment that people with mental illness must negotiate, those arising from cultural differences can make
a profound difference in the quality of care a person
receives. To supplement the groundbreaking 1999
report on mental health, the U.S. Surgeon General
in 2001 issued Mental Health: Culture, Race, and
Ethnicity, in which the disparities in mental health
treatment are documented and discussed. The main
message of the supplemental report is: “culture
counts.” It states, “The cultures that patients come
from shape their mental health and affect the kinds
of mental health services they use. Likewise, the
cultures of the clinician and the service system affect diagnosis, treatment, and the organization and
financing of services. Cultural and social influences
are not the only influences on mental health and
service delivery, but they have been historically underestimated—and they do count. Cultural differences must be accounted for to ensure that minorities, like all Americans, receive mental healthcare
tailored to their needs.”35 Failure to provide mental
health services in a culturally sensitive context al-

most certainly results in higher numbers of people
with mental illness from racial, cultural, and ethnic
minorities in our nation’s jails and prisons.
The Surgeon General’s supplemental report
collects many of the studies that have demonstrated
both the particular needs of different cultural and
ethnic groups, and the availability, utilization, and
effectiveness of mental health services for the different groups. It is clear that African Americans,
Native Americans and Alaska Natives, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, and Hispanic Americans
may all present symptoms of distress or mental illness according to certain idioms of distress that are
particular to their cultures. Members of each of these
groups may also be more likely to seek and accept
alternative therapies than are their white counterparts. In many cases, these alternative therapies
are seen as much more acceptable or consistent with
cultural norms than the dominant modes of treatment practiced in the mental health system might
be. Within each of these broad groups there exist
narrower cultural subgroups, making it difficult for
outsiders to approach a person showing symptoms

35. Office of the Surgeon General, Mental Health: Culture, Race, and Ethnicity – A
Report of the Surgeon General, Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human

Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for
Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental

276 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

of mental illness with any certainty about how offers of treatment, for example, will be understood
or accepted.
There is a great deal of data that demonstrate
the unevenness with which mental illness falls on
members of the cultural minority groups. The public system has, to date, been guilty of
undertreatment of some mental illnesses in some
cultures and what might be called overtreatment of

others. The thrust of the Surgeon General’s supplemental report and of much that has been published
about mental health care for members of different
cultures is that policymakers and practitioners must
take the time to understand mental illness and treatment in cultural terms so that suffering within various cultural groups that goes either undetected or
improperly treated can be abated.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Recruit members of minority communities for clinical and administrative positions in which there is regular client contact.

The quest for cultural competency has been under way in the public mental health field for some time, but the results to date are mixed. With so many
different cultural groups now living side by side in our society, it would be difficult for mental health practitioners or agencies to develop expertise in each
one. It is reasonable, however, for agencies to approach the challenge in a manner similar to the approach suggested by the Surgeon General’s office in compiling its supplemental report. That is, it makes sense for each agency to identify practitioners with the cultural understanding and, if applicable, the language
skills to communicate effectively with the cultures most highly represented in
the community. The underrepresentation of minorities among mental health
providers, administrators, policymakers, and consumer and family organizations only helps to perpetuate the system’s disparities. Agencies should be encouraged to recruit members of minority communities to fill clinical and contact
positions.
Example: North Carolina Area Health Education Centers

Since 1985, the North Carolina Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program has
received special state funding to bring its educational services, training programs,
and information services to the community mental health facilities in the state. Recognizing that a significant percentage of mental health clients in the public system are
from minority groups, yet that the majority of mental health professionals are not
minorities, AHECs promote the recruitment of racial and ethnic minority students into
mental health professions through special regional programs.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 277

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

b

Policy Statement 40: Cultural Competency

Provide training in cultural issues to all staff members in contact
with clients.

At the same time, each agency should make sure that every staff member
who comes in contact with clients has training that will allow him or her to
recognize cultural clues in a person’s presentation and response to offered services. Cultural competency training itself is evolving, but it is clear that for the
mental health system to meet its responsibilities to all in the communities it
serves, mental health professionals must develop an understanding of the roles
of age, gender, race, ethnicity, and culture in the manifestation of mental illness
and its research and treatment. A culturally informed training curriculum is
essential if the system is to advance in this area.
Example: Pacific Clinics (CA)

Pacific Clinics, a provider of behavioral health care services in Los Angeles, Orange,
Riverside, and San Bernardino counties in California, has made a priority of establishing services to meet the needs of different cultural groups. Many of their 50 sites
include staff from Spanish-speaking cultures who can provide culturally sensitive
services to Latino clients. Pacific Clinics also has developed services that are sensitive to the needs of the multiple Asian populations living in that part of California.
Services at the clinics include links to culture-specific family and consumer groups,
as well.

c

Develop targeted outreach programs to make services available to
members of minority communities.

Members of cultural and linguistic minority groups not only have a more
difficult time than others accessing services, many simply fail to consider seeking help when they need it. To many in minority communities, the system is
remote and frightening, especially when no one working in it appears to share
their language or experience. Deep-seated values can also result in even greater
stigma within some cultural groups than exist in the general population.
It is therefore very important for local agencies and the public mental health
system in general to seek innovative ways to reach out to cultural minorities in
their service areas. Outreach can and should take into account the cultural and
linguistic barriers that may be standing between people in need and the services that could help them. One effective way to do this is to tailor outreach
approaches to specific groups by using their language and by forming partnerships with cultural institutions that traditionally serve specific communities.
In many parts of the country, for instance, mental health agencies have sought
to improve outreach to African-American populations by forming collaborative
relationships with churches in their communities.

278 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Example: Mental Health Association of New York City (NY)

In 1998, the Mental Health Association of New York City extended its LifeNet help line
service to the city’s Hispanic community by creating Ayudese, a Spanish-language 24
–hour referral and education toll-free telephone service. In 2000, the help line service
became available to members of New York’s largest Asian communities when a new
number was created to provide information and referrals in Mandarin and Cantonese.
The service is advertised on posters in different languages that are carried in the city’s
subway cars. In a recent pilot project, police in eight of the city’s police precincts
carried LifeNet referral cards in different languages to give to people they perceived to
be in need of services.

Example: Haitian Mental Health Clinic, Cambridge (MA)

Operated through Cambridge Hospital, the Haitian Mental Health Clinic provides culturally and linguistically appropriate ambulatory mental health care for first-and second-generation immigrants of the Haitian community of metropolitan Boston, including individual and family treatment for adults and children, long-term and short-term
therapy, crisis intervention, psychological testing, and psychopharmacology within a
managed care framework, encouraging preventive and primary care.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 279

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

41

Policy Statement 41: Workforce

Workforce
POLICY STATEMENT #41

Determine the adequacy of the current mental health workforce to
meet the needs of the system’s clients.

Like other segments of the human services
field, the public mental health system is experiencing significant difficulty in attracting and retaining
qualified personnel to provide appropriate services
and to effectively manage the myriad agencies on
which it relies at the community level. Constrained
state budgets and tightly capped reimbursement
rates result in salaries for line staff and other professionals that are barely competitive with fields
requiring far less professional commitment and responsibility. Mental health officials in many states
report difficulty in filling positions at the service
provision level. Some positions remain vacant for
long periods of time. Officials also report high rates
of turnover in sensitive line positions in both hospitals and community agencies. In many agencies,
ironically, the pathways for career advancement lead
only to management positions where clinical skills
and experience may take a back seat to other attributes. As a result, mental health agencies can find
themselves with few experienced clinicians meeting clients and poorly prepared managers dealing
with increasingly complex reimbursement, staffing,
and planning issues.
Case managers are, arguably, the most important link in an individualized, community-based
system. Theoretically, they should be the most constant face of the system to consumers and their immediate families. However, most consumers who
have received services in community mental health
centers for any length of time report that they have
seen their case managers turn over steadily. More-

280 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

over, many complain that their case managers are
almost universally young, inexperienced, minimally
trained, and paid on a par with people working at
McDonald’s. Many consumers report that they—the
consumers—know far more about the mental health
system and how it works than do the case managers they are meant to rely on.
At the same time, mental health workers with
the ability to provide services with particular sensitivity to cultural, language, or age-related needs are
in especially short supply in many areas. At a time
when awareness of the need for culturally sensitive
services has grown, it is a sad truth that providers
in many communities simply cannot attract the
workers needed to implement those services.
It is evident that there are any number of reasons for high vacancy and turnover rates. The jobs
entail stressful workloads and conditions, while commanding little public respect or compensation. Reality may not jibe with expectations or training, and
paperwork and other bureaucratic imperatives place
an additional set of burdens on workers who may
have a genuine desire to serve people in need. Moreover, staff currently entering the field may find
themselves in agencies oriented only toward survival and not toward achieving the high expectations that should be the hallmark of the community
mental health system. Services researchers must
thoroughly examine the factors involved in
workforce recruitment and retention, and steps must
be taken to address the gaps evident in the field.
Without significant improvement in this area, many

of the important recommendations in this report will
not be implemented, simply because competent staff
will not be available to do the necessary work.
Example: California State Task Force

A California statute created a task force led by the Department of Mental Health to identify options for meet-

ing the staffing needs of state and county health, human services, and criminal justice agencies. Also in
California, the Center for Health Professions at the University of California, San Francisco, has created the
California Workforce Initiative to look broadly at needs
in the health care workforce, including the behavioral
health care field.36

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Plan to increase the supply of skilled and experienced mental
health providers.

Using data from research, policymakers and state legislators should consider steps that will ensure availability of sufficient resources to attract qualified workers to the mental health field and to make work in the mental health
field an attractive career choice for those with an aptitude for provision of supportive services. At the same time, state mental health officials should undertake efforts designed to raise the professional standing of mental health field
workers and others involved in providing mental health services. Working in
concert with universities and other entities outside the public mental health
system, officials should develop degree or certificate programs that recognize
and reward life experience that can be converted to credentials acceptable to
regulatory, licensing, and reimbursement bodies. Efforts should also be made
to provide financial or other incentives that will attract workers to the mental
health field. For example, tuition loan forgiveness or support programs should
be implemented. Innovative opportunities for professional development and
advancement should be increased.
Example: Ohio Residency/Traineeship Program, Ohio Department of
Mental Health

Since 1947, the Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) has funded the training of
psychiatric residents, psychology students, graduate-level nurses, and social workers
to provide services to persons in Ohio’s public mental health system. This program is
seen as critical in the development of high-quality and high- performance mental
health clinicians. Recruitment and retention is closely linked to experience gained
and expertise fostered in this program. ODMH works in partnership with local mental
health systems and institutions of higher education to implement this initiative.
Example: Mental Health Worker Certificate Program, Walnut (CA)

A new project at Mt. San Antonio College/Regional Health Occupations Center in
Walnut, California, will create a competency-based certificate program for entry- level
mental health workers. The program expects to contribute to a more prepared mental
health workforce. The curriculum includes 64 hours classroom study and 6 months’
clinical practice experience. It expects to train between 20 and 50 workers over a sixmonth period.
Health, 2001.
36. Little Hoover Commission, Young Hearts and Minds:
Making a Commitment to Children’s Mental Health, SacraCriminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 281

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

b

Policy Statement 41: Workforce

Promote the employment of current and former clients in the provision of mental health services.

The mental health system’s own clients may represent a ready reservoir of
talent that can supply workers for many positions in the field. An expanding
body of research shows that consumers of mental health services bring skills
and compassion to such frontline positions. Training programs should be developed to maintain high standards of care and full integration of consumers into
the workforce. Programs that ensure appropriate support for consumers working in mental health services should be developed at local agencies. Agencies
should also come to consensus on the ethical issues raised by the inclusion of
consumers in the mental health workforce; seeing a possible compromise to
patient confidentiality, some agencies prohibit their clients from taking on provider positions, while others have founds ways to minimize the issue. Finally,
state systems and provider agencies must find ways to substitute experience
for education in qualifications for case management and other frontline positions. This may require negotiations with a state Medicaid authority so that
providers can bill for experienced peer counselor activities, thus eliminating a
major obstacle to consumer employment.
Example: New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services, Department of
Human Services

The New Jersey Division of Mental Health Services, Department of Human Services,
wanted to open the way for employment of consumers as peer counselors in Assertive
Community Treatment programs operated in many of the state’s counties. While the
benefits of this initiative seemed obvious to the division, Medicaid reimbursement
regulations were a barrier. The state Medicaid agency’s willingness to defer to state
mental health agency guidelines made it possible for this plan to move forward.

c

Provide training that specifically addresses the consumer and family experience of mental illness.

While ongoing training of all mental health workers is necessary to ensure
familiarity with developments in the field and to address deficits in training
received prior to employment, specific training by consumers and family members can help mental health workers better understand the needs of those they
serve. Exposure to the experiences of primary consumers of mental health services and their families can provide insights that do not come from much of the
training received in classroom or credentialing situations.
Example: NAMI Training Courses

State NAMI affiliates in fourteen states have presented a comprehensive course for
providers that is taught by mixed teams of consumers and family members. Classes
are presented throughout the year and with significant state mental health agency
support in Vermont, Connecticut, Missouri, and Utah. The purpose of the course is to
acquaint providers with the firsthand experience of mental illness. Evaluations of
early classes indicate that staff have changed clinical practice as a result of what they
have learned in the course.

282 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

The need for training and cross-training of professionals is addressed elsewhere in this report but must be mentioned here again for emphasis (see
Chapgter VI: Training Practitioners and Policymakers and Educating the Community). With workforce issues, including job frustration and burnout, looming
as large problems in the mental health field, staff training is a tremendously
important function. A workforce in which individuals have a firm grasp of their
role and of the options open to them in the performance of their duties will
provide a more professional response to the challenges faced in the field.

d

Plan to increase the supply of skilled and experienced mental
health providers in rural areas.

A separate but very much related issue is the acute shortage of mental
health workers in many rural areas. Particularly in the rural West, where population density is low, recruitment of psychiatrists and other skilled professionals presents an enormous challenge. Many counties report vacancies in key
positions lasting several years. Community mental health therefore takes on a
different look in rural areas, especially in the West. Care may be delivered by
whatever professionals are available. Primary care physicians often take on
the role of psychiatrist in rural communities, and telemedicine and other techniques that allow few professionals to cover vast areas are widely employed.
Wide distances distort the meaning of “community” mental health, and institutional care at state hospitals many hours’ drive from home can be more common. Practices that have proven effective in more densely populated districts
are often simply impractical in rural areas.
The unique needs of people with mental illness in rural states have been
explored in detail by the Mental Health Program of the Western Interstate
Commission for Higher Education (WICHE), in Boulder, Colorado. By collecting and analyzing data on mental health services in frontier counties (fewer
than seven persons per square mile), WICHE has identified the greater challenges in service provision. At the same time, policymakers and providers in
states with large rural areas have worked to identify services that are effective
in such settings.37
Another organization that focuses on the issues in rural mental health is
the National Association for Rural Mental Health (NARMH). Founded in 1977
in order to develop and enhance rural mental health and substance abuse services and to support mental health providers in rural areas, NARMH has added
the goal of developing and supporting initiatives that will strengthen the voices
of rural consumers and their families.
Both WICHE and NARMH address recruitment and retention issues in
the rural mental health workforce.38 NARMH maintains a job bank on its Web
site and provides information on recruitment through its annual conference.

mento, CA, October 2001, pp. 63-66.

www.wiche.edu/mentalhealth/Frontier/index.htm

37. Examples can be found at the WICHE Web site:

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 283

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

42

Policy Statement 42: Accountability

Accountability
POLICY STATEMENT #42

Establish and utilize performance measures to promote accountability among systems administrators, funders, and providers.

The purpose of performance measures is to
evaluate and monitor how well a system responsible
for providing mental health care is performing: to
report the information in quantitative terms and to
direct the system’s efforts and resources toward
desirable goals. The fundamental problem with defining such a set of indicators is the lack of consensus on these goals and, therefore, the lack of definition of what constitutes “good” performance.
The various stakeholders of the mental health
system—consumers, family members, advocates,
providers, purchasers, and policymakers—often
have different expectations of the system. A purchaser may emphasize efficiency and cost, while a

consumer may consider outcomes more important.
One stakeholder may define a good system as one
that contains costs and increases consumer satisfaction; another stakeholder may consider a system
successful when it helps a consumer to participate
productively in the life of the community. These different values and expectations of stakeholders in a
system help to shape the character of the performance measurement system. They also shape the
goals and objectives of the system, which, in turn,
determine selection and ranking of performance indicators and the criteria by which performance is
judged to be adequate. (See Chapter VIII: Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes.)

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Utilize performance measures in budgeting, contracting, and managing mental health services.

Different stakeholders also have different uses for performance measures.
Payers, for instance, need performance indicators to make purchasing decisions and to ensure that contract provisions are met. Consumers may use information on performance to make enrollment decisions, choose providers, and
track quality and responsiveness of the different systems of care available to

284 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

them. Providers need performance measures for quality management and improvement purposes. Accreditation agencies are incorporating performance measures to monitor adherence to regulations and standards and to guide accreditation and program-review decisions. Finally, governmental entities need
performance measures for policymaking, purchasing decisions, budget formulation, and monitoring accountability.
Performance measures are one set of tools in the arsenal of efforts intended
to improve quality, management, and accountability. Often, they are used as a
key component of ongoing management functions such as planning, quality
improvement/management, contract management, and accountability. The focus of management is to monitor and improve (or maintain) levels of performance: performance measures are quantitative, measurable ways to do so. Performance measures can be used effectively in planning/budget systems, quality
improvement/management systems, and in contracts management.
Example: New York State Office of Mental Health Center for Performance
Evaluation and Outcomes Management

The New York State Office of Mental Health has created the Center for Performance
Evaluation and Outcomes Management to develop performance measures and associated performance targets for each priority initiative and major sector of the public
mental health system and to evaluate the outcomes associated with each initiative.

b

Involve consumers and families in mental health service evaluation.
Evaluation of mental health services by those who use them is an extremely

valuable gauge of the system’s effectiveness. One way to tap the energy, commitment, and hard-earned knowledge of mental health consumers and family
members is to engage them in the independent evaluation of services. Consumers and family members can help design surveys and “report cards” on services.
With consumer and family participation, it is more likely that report cards will
reflect real-life experiences of consumers: Did they get help applying for benefits? Did they receive help in finding housing and/or employment? Were they
treated with respect?
Consumers and families generally respond to such surveys if they feel the
results will be made known to them and will lead to any corrective measures
indicated. In some places, consumers and family members have gone beyond
these efforts to form consumer satisfaction teams, which work with the system
to formally evaluate services through site visits, surveys, and interviews with
clients. When efforts of this nature are paired with a commitment by providers
to make improvements in services based on the team’s findings, significant
progress can be made.

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Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

Policy Statement 42: Accountability

Example: Consumer Surveys, Mental Health Statistics Improvement
Program

Under the auspices of the Center for Mental Health Services and its Mental Health
Statistics Improvement Program, consumers and professionals have worked together
to develop consumer surveys that are now in use in a number of states. These
surveys, which in some states have been translated into Spanish, Cambodian, traditional Chinese, Portuguese, Russian, and Vietnamese, among other languages, provide
an opportunity for consumers to indicate how well services do or do not work for them.

Example: Consumer Satisfaction Team, Philadelphia (PA)

In 1990, a Consumer Satisfaction Team (CST) was developed in Philadelphia. At the
time, a state hospital was closing and patients from the hospital were being transferred to community services. Family members and consumers, skeptical of the system’s
commitment to provide adequate services, coalesced to form the CST. The consumers
and family members won support of local authorities for incorporation of the CST’s
findings in the overall evaluation of the system’s ability to provide services in the
community. Relying primarily on multiple interviews with consumers at different agencies, the CST was able to document consumer views on provided services. The Philadelphia CST has served as a model for a number of state and local systems wishing
to formalize methods for obtaining consumer feedback.

c

Attach funding to outcomes.

States and other government entities responsible for funding the public
mental health system should employ budgeting and contracting mechanisms
that emphasize improved outcomes. Performance based budgeting and other
mechanisms that allow for costs in one system to be balanced against offsets in
another – spending in the mental health system versus fewer costs in corrections, for example – should be considered by legislatures of states wishing to
better understand the full implications of the policies they establish.
Similarly, state mental health agencies that contract with provider agencies for services in communities should attach funding to the outcomes to be
achieved. For example, contracts can include incentives for lower rates of arrest among the population served by an agency, along with safeguards that
ensure the agency is not “creaming” or finding ways to provide services only to
clients at lower risk for involvement in the criminal justice system.
By their nature, performance-based budgeting and contracting mechanisms
promote provision of a full spectrum of services that meet all needs experienced
by people with mental illness. Strategic placement of both incentives and accountability can lead to development of a system that stresses collaboration
and outcomes and allows those making service decisions to make specific spending decisions, as well.

286 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Example: Performance-based budgeting, Various states

Performance-based budgeting and contracting initiatives are under way in many states
across the country. While it is too early in this wave of activity to identify states that
are leading the field, it is possible for states and counties to begin to learn lessons
from the experiences of their counterparts in other jurisdictions. Florida, Texas, Virginia, Missouri, and South Carolina are among the states that have examined or
implemented performance-based budgeting in state government. In addition, the federal government is developing methods to convert existing block grants, such as the
Mental Health Block Grant, to “performance partnership” grants. Regulations for this
effort will be issued some time in 2002.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 287

Chapter VII: Elements of an Effective Mental Health System

43

Policy Statement 43: Advocacy

Advocacy
POLICY STATEMENT #43

Build awareness of the need for high quality, comprehensive services
and of the impact of stigma and discriminatory policies on access to
them.

The stigma of mental illness is a persistent and
pernicious force against which people with mental
illness, their families, and those who provide services to them must continually struggle. As noted
in the Surgeon General’s report on mental health,
stigma manifests itself in distrust, bias, fear, stereotyping, embarrassment, anger, and/or avoidance.
Stigma derives in part from poor or incomplete understanding of causes and treatment for mental disorders.
Stigma translates into problems that must be
addressed by the public mental health system if it
is to provide needed services to people with mental
illness. Among the most major problems is the reluctance of nearly two-thirds of all people with diagnosable mental illness to seek treatment. Stigma
is not the only issue that discourages people in need
from seeking treatment, but among many populations, including rural populations and members of
many distinct cultural groups, it clearly keeps many
away from needed services and supports.39
Stigma also manifests itself in negative public
attitudes towards payment for mental health services. Even with passage of mental health insurance
“parity” laws in nearly two-thirds of the states, private insurance coverage for mental illness often re-

38. See: www.narmh.org/
39. Office of the Surgeon General, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 454.

288 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

mains inequitable in terms of co-payments and dollar or durational limits on coverage. At the same
time, support for public funding of mental health
programs remains soft relative to public willingness
to pay for highways, prisons, or even other health
services.
In recent years, a common approach by the
mental heath community to the problem of stigma
has been to point out that mental illnesses are illnesses like any other. Much faith has been placed
in the promise of research to clarify the etiology of
mental illness and to further improve treatments
that already can demonstrate effectiveness comparable to treatments for “accepted” diagnoses such
as heart disease, cancer, and diabetes. While this
approach to stigma and discrimination can be shown
to have had some effect, it is clear that public support for greater expenditure on mental health services has simply not materialized.
Recent years have also seen a rise in greater
awareness of other problems associated with mental illness, particularly within the law enforcement,
judicial, and corrections fields. Low public investment in mental health services has resulted in a
system that often cannot adequately meet the complex needs of the people it is meant to serve. A stark

symptom of this undervalued and underfunded system is the increase in criminal justice contact for
people with mental illness. Without adequate ser-

vices, many commit the petty crimes that bring them
to the attention of law enforcement and the courts
and that may result in stays in jail or prison.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Create public support for the investment necessary to make highquality, comprehensive mental health services available to those
who need them.

A significant effect of stigma is that it allows many in society to distance
themselves from people with mental illness and the real, if complicated, social
issues associated with their condition. People with mental illness, especially
those in trouble with the law, are easy to dismiss as unworthy of public notice.
At a minimum, they may be seen as inconsequential in the broad political calculus by which limited resources are allocated. Even harsher attitudes prevail
when offenders with mental illness are seen exclusively as authors of their own
problems or when they become involved in high-profile, often tragic, encounters with the law.
The challenge to public mental health policymakers, providers, consumers, and family members is to find ways to make the public aware of the experience and costs of untreated mental illness. Having found that their own voices
alone are ineffective in changing public attitudes, these advocates must search
for new allies who can help to carry the message, making support for effective
services a public priority.

b

Present a common front to advocate for greater investment in improved mental health services.

In the face of stigmatizing attitudes, increased efforts by law enforcement
officials, judges, prosecutors, and corrections administrators to understand and
address the causes for their increased contact with individuals with mental
illness hold the potential to increase awareness of the costs borne by society
when appropriate mental health services are not delivered. By highlighting the
burdens placed on their systems by people overlooked or underserved by the
public mental health system, members of the criminal justice system have an
unprecedented opportunity to help shape public opinion and public policy. Increased public awareness of the inefficiency stemming from the current allocation of resources will help to create the political will necessary to direct resources toward development and maintenance of comprehensive, high-quality
public mental health programs. Improvement in public mental health programs
will result not only in fewer criminal justice contacts by people with mental
illness but, more basically, in more opportunities for people with mental illness
to participate fully in society. (See Policy Statement 32: Educating the Community and Building Community Awareness.)

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 289

CHAPTER VIII

Measuring and
Evaluating Outcomes

W

hen agents of change go to extraordinary lengths to facilitate
collaboration among mental
health and criminal justice
stakeholders, which leads to the development of
new and exciting initiatives to improve the systems’
response to people with mental illness, it is essential that they measure and evaluate the impact of
these efforts. Too often, policymakers exhaust time
and resources planning and implementing a new
program, policy, or statute without taking the steps
to ensure that they will know the results of the initiative. By then, administrators need additional
resources to sustain the initiative, yet appropriators are insisting upon some evidence describing
the impact of the program before authorizing the
expenditure of additional funds.
Indeed, policymakers and organization executives are right to demand such information. It often rewards the initial decision to authorize the
allocation of resources to a particular initiative with

data illustrating the benefits of a new program. The
results of an objective, thoughtful evaluation also
signal how an initiative can be improved. Furthermore, the evaluation process itself facilitates quality control; not every good idea is implemented well.
Sometimes the results of a study reveal that a new
program, policy, or legislation has had a negligible
impact on a problem, or occasionally even exacerbated it.
The section of the Introduction to this report
entitled “Getting Started” explains that an essential first step for any jurisdiction interested in improving the response to people with mental illness
is to identify the problem (or problems) that leaders
in the criminal justice and mental health community can agree to address. This chapter assumes
the existence of such an agreement about the problem; the first policy statement underscores the importance of establishing practical measures of success, which will allow program funders and program
administrators to determine whether they have ad-

1. The subsequent policy statements do not review the elements of validating instruments to identify a mental illness or to assess the potential of a person with
mental illness to be violent. Although extremely important, and certainly needed,

the validation of various diagnostic instruments is complex and beyond the purview
of this report.

290 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

dressed the problem.1 The second policy statement
in this chapter reviews the elements of a program
or policy that will support the data collection needed
to measure the outcomes identified. The last policy
statement in the chapter assumes the change agent
has helped analyze an initiative’s successes and failures and discusses disseminating the findings.
Evaluations can be extraordinarily complex
and expensive undertakings. The policy statements
in this chapter suggest how policymakers and practitioners can measure the impact of an initiative
practically and efficiently. That said, any effort to
obtain reliable and useful information describing
an initiative’s outcomes requires some resource allocation. Examples cited elsewhere in this report
sometimes include a provision requiring state or
local government officials to use a portion of the
funds allocated to evaluate the impact of the program.2 Partnering with local universities is one
way to conduct an evaluation and maximize the use
of existing resources.

The value and usefulness of a program evaluation often corresponds to the degree to which various stakeholder groups are involved in identifying
outcome measures, developing a data collection
process, and disseminating the findings. Extensive collaboration inevitably enhances the quality
and efficiency of the evaluation. Equally important, it vastly improves the likelihood that significant segments of the community will accept the
findings that the evaluation yields. That said, this
chapter does not address the oversight of the evaluation. (For a discussion about how to collaborate
effectively and establish and institutionalize partnerships, see the section of the report Introduction
entitled “Getting Started” and Chapter V: Improving Collaboration.)

2. See, for example, The California Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant
Program. California Board of Corrections, Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction

Grant Program: Annual Report, June 2000. Available at www.bdcorr.ca.gov/cppd/
miocrg/miocrg_publications/miocrg_publications.htm.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 291

Chapter VIII: Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes

44

Policy Statement 44: Identifying Outcome Measures

Identifying Outcome Measures
POLICY STATEMENT # 44

Identify outcome measures that will enable policymakers and the
public to assess the value and efficacy of the initiative.

Change agents who have nurtured a new program, policy, or statute should, before the initiative
is implemented, determine how they will measure
its success. The outcome measures identified should
correlate to the specific goals of a program and the
problem it was designed to address. Program administrators and policymakers are sometimes prone
to pinning the success of an effort to types of outcomes that their program could never guarantee.
Selecting outcome measures that are particularly difficult, time-consuming, or expensive to measure also undermines the value of an evaluation.
For example, while determining the overall cost savings that a program generates can be very valuable
in persuading the legislature to maintain or increase
funding for a project, isolating such data can be extremely complex. Empirical data linking a program’s
impact on criminal behavior to a pilot project can be
equally elusive. Longitudinal studies with random
assignment and control groups are not only an enormous undertaking, they also may not yield conclusive findings.

3. See, for example, Larry Hoover, ed., Police Program Evaluation, Police Executive
Research Forum, 1997; Larry Hoover, ed., Quantifying Quality in Policing, Police Executive Research Forum, 1997.

292 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Law enforcement, court, corrections, and mental health system officials each measure success differently, and they have developed (or are in the process of developing) performance-based measures
unique to their professions.3 The recommendations
below describe outcome measures that can be tailored to law enforcement, court, corrections, or mental health programs. In addition, these measures
can provide useful information without requiring an
evaluation process that is particularly time-consuming or expensive to conduct.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Establish process measures to assess how well the program activities have been implemented.

Project funders and the public will want to know exactly what project support bought. The following list describes the process outputs that program
administrators should count both before and after program implementation.
Number of people served
Program administrators should know the total number of people served
over a specified period of time. These numbers will indicate the size of the
target population served and the extent of each person’s involvement in the
program, enabling administrators to compare these figures with numbers projected at the beginning of the effort and to understand better the makeup and
needs of the target population.
Each program will identify different process measures depending on the
program design and the point of intervention on the criminal justice continuum.
For example, administrators of a Crisis Intervention Team should capture at
least the following data: the number of calls referred to the team; the number
of individuals referred to community-based services; the number of individuals
hospitalized; and the number of referrals to community-based services who received follow-up services. A pretrial services program would track the following numbers regarding the number of people served: the number of defendants
interviewed; the number of defendants referred for a mental health assessment; the number of defendants recommended for pretrial release; the number
of defendants approved for pretrial release; and the number of defendants who
successfully comply with the conditions of release.
Example: Jail Addiction Services, Clinical Assessment and Triage
Services (CATS), Montgomery County (MD)

The Montgomery County Clinical Assessment and Triage Services (CATS) is a team
of mental health professionals at the county jail who assess new inmates suspected of
having a mental illness at intake and assist in determining whether it would be appropriate for some of these inmates to be diverted to community-based mental health
treatment. The team uses the following measures to gauge their impact: 1) number of
inmates assessed for behavioral health problems; 2) number of inmates recommended
for diversion; 3) number of inmates with mental health symptoms diverted into community treatment; and 4) number of inmates who are eligible for the public mental
health system.

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Chapter VIII: Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes

Policy Statement 44: Identifying Outcome Measures

Units of Services
Whereas the figures discussed above will indicate the extent of the target
population’s penetration of the layers of the program, units of service indicates
the target population’s access to substance abuse and mental health services.
For each person served, it is important to know the number of contacts that he
or she has had with mental health and/or substance abuse treatment providers. A “contact” could include a weekly counseling session or participation in an
Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. Researchers should continue to tally the number of contacts an individual has after he or she has completed a sentence or
after referral. Such information will be extremely useful in determining whether
a new program has made services accessible to the target population and whether
a new program has successfully engaged people with mental illness in treatment and/or facilitated access to services.4
Efforts should be made to determine when there are repeated contacts
with the same individual (identifiers need not be used) and whether contacts
are increased or reduced before and after the project’s start.
Timeliness of Service
Program administrators should consider using the timeliness of the service delivered as one way to measure empirically the quality of service provided. For instance, jail administrators should determine how long it takes for
detainees referred for a mental health assessment following the screening to in
fact receive an assessment. Similarly, it is helpful to know how much time
passes after a person is released from prison before he or she makes contact
with the mental health system.
Example: Montgomery County (MD) Police Department

The Montgomery County Police Department uses the timeliness of service and the
distribution of trained officers as several factors to help measure quality of service.
The program measures the average length of time between the call to the CIT officers
the Department of Health and Human Services crisis center specialist. In addition,
the police department calculates both the percentage of the patrol force that is CIT
certified and the percentage of police districts that have at least one trained CIT
officer assigned to each shift.

b

Establish outcome measures that indicate the impact of the initiative on the person’s involvement with the criminal justice system
and mental health system.

Confirming a connection between a new program and some desired outcomes, such as improved public safety and providing better, or more, services

4. Subsequent contacts with (or calls for service to) law
enforcement, even when they do not end in arrest, are also
important indicators of the extent to which the mental
health system has effectively engaged the individual.
These contacts and other contacts with the criminal justice

system are addressed in the subheading under the next
recommendation regarding public safety.
5. The National GAINS Center for People with Co-occurring Disorders in the Justice System has provided technical

294 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Federally Sponsored
Evaluations

with limited resources, can be extremely difficult. Nevertheless, such outcome
measures are compelling and key to maintaining support from policymakers
and the public.
Accordingly, program administrators should identify aspects of public safety,
quality of life, and cost efficiency that can be realistically measured without
being irresponsible or misleading about the impact of the program on these
issues. For example, tracking whether (and how often) program participants
are re-arrested, violate a condition of release, are reincarcerated, or are rehospitalized provides important indicators of the program’s impact on the justice system and a person’s involvement with it. Such data, however, need responsible analysis to determine when the program correlates to particular results
or when it causes change.
Public Safety
Measures of public safety include numbers describing the following:
“

calls for service to law enforcement

“

calls for transportation / referral

“

re-arrest

“

jail admissions

“

jail days

“

jail or prison-based disciplinary infractions

“

revocations of community-supervised release

Other measures, although more difficult to track than the numbers above,
include assaults involving people with mental illness and uses of force involving a person with mental illness.
Quality of life
Changes in personal functioning measures, such as the following, enable
researchers to assess how or whether an individual’s quality of life has improved or worsened:
“

drug/alcohol abuse

“

employment

“

housing situation

“

family reunification

“

job skills

“

education level

“

suicidal ideation/attempts

“

demonstrable improvement in functioning (using the scale provided in
the DSM IV)6

assistance for the jail diversion programs and the Research
Triangle Institute is responsible for overall program integration, data management, and data analyses. See:
www.gainsctr.com/projects/jail_diversion.asp.

The federal government (particularly through the US Department
of Justice and the US Department
of Health and Human Services)
plays an essential role in generating knowledge about what programs have demonstrated promise or have proven effective in
improving responses to people
with mental illness. Although not
every new initiative can benefit
from a federally-sponsored evaluation, policymakers and practitioners across the country can learn
from program evaluations that the
federal government has conducted—especially when data
sets and outcome measures are
congruent across jurisdictions.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), through the Center for Mental Health Services
(CMHS) and the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment (CSAT)
has initiated a three-year Jail Diversion Knowledge Development
and Application project to study
programs that divert some individuals with mental illness and
co-occurring substance abuse
disorders from jail in nine sites.
The purpose of the study is to
determine when jail diversion
works, for whom, and under what
circumstances. This evaluation
effort will capture and analyze
data both within and across jurisdictions and should provide
important information for the
field. 5

6. See the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental
Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), American Psychiatric
Association, Washington D.C., 1994.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 295

Chapter VIII: Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes

Policy Statement 44: Identifying Outcome Measures

Cost
Project funders will be especially interested in the costs associated with an
initiative:
“

requests for law enforcement for service

“

jail days

“

mental health crisis facility admissions

“

psychiatric inpatient admissions and total days

“

substance abuse crisis facility admissions and total days

“

involuntary treatment costs

“

prison days

To capture the true criminal justice cost reductions that a new initiative
realizes, jail and corrections administrators should attempt to calculate the
real cost of incarcerating a person with mental illness. Existing prison and jail
per diem costs reflect the expense of incarcerating an average inmate. Inmates
with mental illness, however, typically absorb a disproportionately high amount
of correctional resources. Although no correctional system has effectively isolated the cost, providing mental health services (especially when taking into
account the cost of escort and transportation costs) in a prison or jail is expensive. The bedspace for a person with mental illness in prison or jail (recall that
many are assigned to high-security cells) may also be more expensive than the
average inmate
Corrections administrators also should attempt to capture some of the costs
associated with inadequately treating mental illness in prison or jail. These
situations can lead to inmate-on-staff assaults, inmate-on-inmate assaults, and
other use-of-force incidents, which translate into missed work days, lawsuits,
and injuries to officers and inmates—physically and emotionally. Such incidents also often increase the length of inmates’ stay.
Law enforcement officials should use similar measures to gauge the fiscal
impact of an initiative. Reducing the time it takes for a police officer to clear a
call involving a person with mental illness (while also reducing the likelihood
that there will be a subsequent call for service) has significant cost implications. Lowering rates of injuries among line staff or members of the community
who have a mental illness is also a significant outcome.
Quality of Service
The preceding recommendation included as an important outcome measure the timeliness of service. This performance indicator can be a useful element to consider when measuring the quality of service. Satisfaction with service, although considerably more subjective than the timeliness of service, is
also an important measure of the quality of service.

296 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

c

Monitor the gross numbers of people with mental illness in contact with—or under the supervision of—the criminal justice system

Improving the effectiveness and the accessibility of mental health services
should reduce the number of people with mental illness who are in contact with
the criminal justice system. (See Policy Statement 1: Involvement with the
Mental Health System.) Indeed, the overrepresentation of people with mental
illness in the criminal justice system is, in part, what prompted the Criminal
Justice / Mental Health Consensus Project. Accordingly, assuming state and
local government officials have provided criminal justice officials with sufficient
tools and guidance to identify people with mental illness, they should track the
gross numbers of people with mental illness (or, in the case of law enforcement’s
contact with a person with mental illness, those individuals who exhibit signs of
potential mental illness) at each stage on the criminal justice continuum (i.e.,
arrest, detention, probation, etc.). Such data should also include demographic
information (e.g., age, race, gender) regarding this population.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 297

Chapter VIII: Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes

45

Policy Statement 45: Collecting Data

Collecting Data
POLICY STATEMENT #45

Ensure mechanisms are in place to capture data consistent with the
process and outcome measures identified.

Once officials have determined the criteria they
will use to measure the impact of the program, they
need to be sure they will capture the relevant data.
In addition, they need to establish a baseline, which
serves as a benchmark against which progress can
be measured.
Implementing many of the policy statements
in this report should facilitate the collection of data
that would accomplish both these goals. For instance, Policy Statement 2: Request for Police Service explains the value of tagging calls for assistance
that appear to involve a person with mental illness.

Policy Statement 11: Pretrial Release / Detention
Hearing addresses the importance of screening a
pretrial defendant for mental illness. Policy Statement 13: Intake at County / Municipal Detention
Facility and Policy Statement 17: Receiving and
Intake of Sentenced Inmates provides for screening
people with mental illness when they enter a jail or
prison. The recommendations below suggest how
state and local government officials can capitalize
on these and other opportunities to assemble valuable data.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Agree upon common definitions of mental illness and the characteristics of the general target population.

Researchers studying various initiatives that target people with mental
illness have cited inconsistent definitions of mental illness and uneven qualities of documentation as a major obstacle to evaluating effectively the impact of
a program.7

7. Polly Phipps and Gregg Gagliardi, Implementation of
Washington’s Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender Law: Prelimi-

nary Findings, Washington State Institute for Public Policy,
March 2002.

298 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Although mental illness diagnoses are complex, and insisting upon a precise diagnosis is problematic, it is reasonable and wise to ensure partners use
common definitions.
Example: Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender (DMIO) Program (WA)

When the Washington State Institute for Public Policy conducted a preliminary review
of the DMIO program, it recommended that the agencies charged with implementing
the program needed “to come to an agreement about which objective criteria (diagnosis, functional impairment) will qualify a candidate as mentally ill for the purposes of
the DMIO program.” Department of Corrections officials, while noting that agencies
already were using a “working definition” for “major mental disorder,” concurred that
reviewing and resolving differences in the definitions adopted by the committee and
definitions already employed by DOC would be useful.8

For the data to be particularly useful, it is important that the target population share other common denominators, such as the age of the group (juveniles or adults) and the presence of a co-occurring disorder (e.g., mental illness
only or mental illness and a co-occurring substance abuse disorder).
Of course, detailed definitions of the target population alone will not ensure that evaluators are analyzing data for a population that shares similar
mental health status and/or criminal history. Training staff on the application
of this definition to the client population is essential.

b

Capitalize on existing management information systems to facilitate data collection and analysis.

Automated management information systems reduce paperwork, maintain data in an organized fashion, and provide quick access to information. Data
collections that can easily draw from these systems can reduce the time it takes
to capture data, ensure the information is collected in a consistent format, and
enable quick analysis of the information. For example, law enforcement officials could add a field to police record management systems, which would enable law enforcement to record information, after a call is cleared, about successful referrals to community-based services.
Example: Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant Program (CA)

The state law that established the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant Program requires counties receiving a grant to conduct an evaluation of their project that
includes outcome and performance measures. To assist counties in assembling data
needed for the evaluation, the Board of Corrections (which oversees the grant program) tapped three existing databases: 1) the State Department of Mental Health’s
Client and Services Information (CSI) System, which captures various data regarding
diagnoses, demographic information, and lifestyle information; 2) the Medi-Cal/CSI
Billing systems, which net data regarding the health and support services that each
client uses; and 3) the State’s Adult Performance Outcome System, which captures

8. Ibid, Appendix G, p. 67.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 299

Chapter VIII: Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes

Policy Statement 45: Collecting Data

data for each client regarding the results of two of three mental health instruments
administered at the beginning of mental health treatment and at regular intervals
thereafter.9
Example: Dangerous Mentally Ill Offender (DMIO) Program (WA)

In evaluating the quality and quantity of pre-release and post-release services that the
target population received, the Washington Public Policy Institute relied in part on
detailed notes that community corrections officers entered into the state Department
of Correction’s Offender Based Tracking System (OBTS) electronic database.

c

Solicit comments and opinions from staff, crime victims, family
members, and program participants.

Program staff, crime victims and program participants and their family
members can be extremely helpful in informing policymakers how a new program or initiative has affected lives and systems. To that end, policymakers
should encourage administrators to collect anecdotal data from these stakeholder groups. Indeed, information about their satisfaction with a new policy
or program is often as important as empirical data regarding the impact of the
program.
Program administrators should survey crime victims, asking them whether
they felt that they had been sufficiently informed about developments in the
case and whether they had been adequately consulted, given the requirements
of the existing state law. Obtaining feedback from practitioners is also essential.
Example: Jail Diversion Program, Connecticut Department of Mental
Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS)

DMHAS officials conducted a written survey of judges, prosecutors, public defenders,
and other court officials, asking them to what extent they agreed with statements
regarding the jail diversion program, such as the following: 1) it saves the court time;
2) it gives unfair advantage to the defendants; 3) it protects the rights of the defendant; 4) it saves the state money; and 5) it reduces risks to the community. They
included the results in a report submitted to the General Assembly. This report
helped to convince the Connecticut State Legislature to expand funding for the Jail
Diversion Project to create diversion programs statewide.
Example: Mobile Crisis Team (MCT), Montgomery County (MD)

The MCT provides emergency mental health services to individuals at any location in
the jurisdiction to attempt to stabilize the situation at the least restrictive level possible. Clients who requested the MCT are surveyed regarding their level of satisfaction with the response.

In surveying people with mental illness who participated in the program,
interviewers should ask about the individual’s level of satisfaction with his or
her housing situation, employment status, or relationships with loved ones.

9. California Board of Corrections, Mentally Ill Offender
Crime Reduction Grant Program, p. 7.

300 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Some jurisdictions have taken additional steps to collect empirical data
regarding the qualitative impact of the initiative.
Example: Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant Program (CA)

The Board of Corrections, which oversees the grant program, developed a methodology to evaluate the program. Thirteen of the 15 counties that are grant sites are
employing this experimental design. Randomly selected treatment and comparison
groups are assessed at least twice (before and after the intervention) with the same
instruments over the same period of time. Records are kept for every project participant (in both the comparison and treatment groups) and must include any services or
interventions received and a definition those services.10

d

Establish procedures early in the process to share information that
will facilitate the data collection of people served by both the
criminal justice and mental health systems.

Criminal justice and mental health officials sometimes let laws and regulations protecting the privacy of people served by the mental health system
serves prevent efforts to collect data and conduct evaluations. There are ways,
however, for researchers to respect these mandates and still obtain data that
will inform an evaluation. For example, to determine whether an initiative has
been effective in maintaining contact between a community mental health provider and a person referred by the police, courts, or corrections, criminal justice
officials do not necessarily need records regarding a particular person’s attendance at a clinic. Instead, information in the aggregate would serve the same
purpose. In addition, researchers do not necessarily need to have access to a
mental health provider’s records to determine the units of service provided to a
particular individual. Requesting that the provider simply check its records for
a particular person would accomplish the same goals.
Example: Crisis and Engagement Services, Mental Health, Chemical
Abuse and Dependency Services Division, Dept. of Community and Human
Services, King County (WA)

The King County Department of Community and Human Services conducted a crosssystem examination of the costs or providing services to a group of “high utilizers of
drug and alcohol acute services.” This evaluation included costs associated with jail
time, inpatient psychiatric services, substance abuse crisis services, involuntary treatment costs, and emergency room admissions. To minimize information-sharing obstacles, the Mental Health, Chemical Abuse and Dependency Services Division first
collected information concerning the use of mental health and substance abuse services under their supervision. The division then asked the jail and local emergency
room to provide information that was cross-referenced with the initial list to determine
which individuals were utilizing multiple services during a one-year period.

10. Ibid.

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Chapter VIII: Measuring and Evaluating Outcomes

46

Policy Statement 46: Dissemenating Findings

Dissemenating Findings
POLICY STATEMENT # 46

Publicize program successes as appropriate to the media, public,
and appropriators

Once agents of change have completed an evaluation, they should share the results of their findings with various audiences. In most cases, disseminating information about the impact of the program

is essential to build support for a new initiative, to
facilitate the replication of a pilot project, or to engage additional partners. This policy statement
suggests three ways to accomplish these goals.

RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

a

Capitalize on existing networks of advocacy groups to publicize
program results

By tapping its national network, an advocacy group, such as a local Mental
Health Association or affiliate of NAMI (Alliance for the Mentally Ill), can be extraordinarily effective in spreading the word about a new and promising initiative.
Example: Crisis Intervention Team, Memphis (TN)

The Memphis CIT was established as a result of a collaborative effort among the
Memphis Police Department and various leaders in the community, including members of the NAMI. Training is an important component of the CIT initiative, and NAMI
members play a key role in administering the training program for police officers.
NAMI hosts an annual awards dinner for officers serving on the CIT and has also been
helpful in trumpeting the results that Professor Randolph Dupont has documented:
the response time for a CIT officer on a crisis call averages 5 to 10 minutes, as
compared with other models where police take 30 to 50 minutes. NAMI’s promotion of
these and other data at its conventions and on its website has facilitated replication of
the CIT model in communities across the country.

b

Advertise positive program results in local media outlets

When the results of an evaluation confirm the value of a new initiative,
policymakers and practitioners should publicize the data. In this regard, press

302 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

kits that briefly highlight the findings and provide contact information for program spokespersons can be extremely effective.
It is important to identify spokespersons who the media or the public might
not immediately associate with the issue. For example, a mental health advocate or provider might be expected to talk about the value of en effective community-based mental health program. On the other hand, law enforcement
officials, corrections administrators, or other criminal justice practitioners who
explain how effective mental health services have improved public safety can
be particularly compelling.
Example: Trauma, Addictions Mental Health and Recovery (TAMAR)
Program (MD)

"We need to better
demonstrate the
effectiveness of the kinds
of programs discussed in
this report—do empirical
studies, figure out what
works, and then
institutionalize these
practices."
WILLIAM SONDERVAN
Commissioner, Maryland
Division of Correction

Preliminary research regarding rearrest rates among women participating in TAMAR
has been impressive. Wardens and other correctional administrators of facilities in
county jails where the TAMAR program has been established have made presentations
for county commissioners and state legislators citing these data to help explain the
value of the initiative. Elected officials have responded by promoting the replication
of the program and publicizing its value to the state and counties in public hearings.
Example: Partners in Crisis (FL)

Linda Gregory, the widow of a deputy sheriff shot and killed by Alan Singletary (a
person with a history of untreated mental illness) and Alice Petree, Alan Singletary’s
sister, are members of Partners in Crisis, a coalition of leaders in the criminal justice
and mental health system in Florida. Partners in Crisis conducted public service
announcements across Florida featuring Ms. Gregory and Ms. Petree who explained
the value of access to effective mental health services.

c

Create clearinghouses at the state and local level that provide information regarding the availability of services people with mental
illness coming into contact with the criminal justice system.

Clearinghouses can help to advertise new initiatives that are promising
and spread the word about valuable lessons learned in other communities.
Example: Texas Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments

The Texas Council on Offenders with Mental Impairments is statutorily responsible for
providing technical assistance and information to local and state criminal justice
entities regarding alternatives to incarceration for those with special needs. The
council comprises individuals from throughout the state who represent every facet of
local and state criminal justice systems. These board members are responsible for
collecting information from the field and bringing it to the council for review and
response.

Establishing for one jurisdiction an organization that will serve as a clearinghouse around criminal justice and mental health issues exclusively may be
unrealistic, but adding this function to an existing entity is often feasible. For
example, the mental health agency funding community programs or an entity
or person reporting to the court (e.g., pretrial services, probation, mental health
court staff) regarding the availability of community-based services could become a locus of information.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 303

Appendices

Appendix A

Glossary1

adjudication — The disposition or resolution of a criminal

case.
advanced directive — Documents written while a person is

competent specifying how decisions about treatment should be
made if the person becomes incompetent.2
alternative therapies — Treatment toward mental health

through programs other than the traditional hospitalization and institutional care options for patients. These programs include various community-implemented treatment programs and facilities.
arraignment — The first appearance in court of an individual

after arrest at which the individual is informed of the charges
and a pretrial release/detention decision is made.
assertive case management — An intensive form of case

tion, and support services. ACT/PACT models of treatment are
built around a self-contained multidisciplinary team that serves
as the fixed point of responsibility for all patient care for a fixed
group of patients. In this approach, normally used with clients
with severe and persistent mental illness, the treatment team
typically provides all patient services using a highly integrated
approach to care.4
assessment — An examination, more comprehensive than a
screening, performed on each newly admitted detainee (or inmate) soon after arrival at an institution. It usually includes a
review of the medical screening, behavior observations, an inquiry into any mental health history, and an assessment of suicide potential.
atypical antipsychotics — Also known as second-genera-

management intended to help patients to increase daily-task functioning, residential stability, and independence, and to reduce
their hospitalizations. Assertive case management substantially
reduces inpatient service use, promotes continuity of outpatient
care, and increases community tenure and residence stability for
people with serious mental illness.3

tion antipsychotics, they include these chemical classes:
dibenzoxazepine (e.g., Clozapine), thienobenzodiazepine (e.g.,
Olanzapine), and benzisoxazole (e.g., Risperidone). These medications are known as “atypical” because they are generally more
effective in symptom reduction than the earlier generation of
antipsychotic medications, without the side-effect profile typical
of those medications.5

Assertive Community Treatment (ACT) — Sometimes

bail — A condition of pretrial release in which an individual

referred to as Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT).
A team-based approach to the provision of treatment, rehabilita1. Many terms used in this report (e.g., assessment) have multiple meanings depending on the context in which they are used. The definitions listed in this glossary address the context in which the words appear in this report.
2. Appelbaum, “Advanced Directives,” p. 983.

306 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

who has been arrested must pay a specified amount to obtain

3. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 286-287.
4. Proposed New HCPCS Procedure Codes for Mental Health Services, 4.
5. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 69.

release. The purpose of bail is to assure the appearance of the
accused at all court proceedings.

and members work as teams to perform the tasks necessary for
the operation of the clubhouse.

behavioral health care — An encompassing term including

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) — A manual-driven

assessment and treatment of mental and/or psychoactive substance abuse disorders.6

course of structured counseling aimed toward increasing awareness of one’s thoughts, behaviors and actions, and the consequences of them. CBT is often used to address specific problem
areas such as anger management, moral reasoning, criminal thinking, addiction, relapse prevention, and relationships.

blood levels of medication — The amount of a medication

present at any given time within the inmate’s blood system—
used to determine whether a correct, or optimal, dosing regimen
is being used in order to achieve therapeutic effects.
Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS) — The BPRS is

an 18-item rating scale used for evaluating psychiatric symptom
change. Developed by John Overall, Ph.D., and D. R. Gorham,
Ph.D., the BPRS provides an efficient, clinician-based means to
assess a large number of psychiatric symptom constructs. The
BPRS generates valid patient information covering the full spectrum of psychiatric diagnoses (e.g., bipolar disorder, major depression, schizophrenia, psychosis, and anxiety).
call for service — When police are called to respond to some

event; does not necessarily indicate that a crime has been committed. Typically, when police respond to calls, they are referred
to as “out of service.”
case management — A range of services provided to assist

and support patients in developing their skills to gain access to
needed medical, behavioral health, housing, employment, social,
educational, and other services essential to meeting basic human services; linkages and training for patient served in the use
of basic community resources; and monitoring of overall service
delivery. This service is generally provided by staff whose primary function is case management.7
case-r
case-raated funding — Payment to the provider based on one glo-

command staff — Manages the daily operations and future

planning of a police department, (e.g., chief, deputy chiefs, and
majors).
Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement
Agencies (CALEA) — The Commission on Accreditation for

Law Enforcement Agencies, Inc., was established as an independent accrediting authority in 1979 by the four major law enforcement membership associations: International Association of Chiefs
of Police (IACP); National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE); National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA);
and Police Executive Research Forum (PERF). The purpose of
CALEA is to improve delivery of law enforcement service by offering a body of standards, developed by law enforcement practitioners, covering a wide range of up-to-date law enforcement
topics. The CALEA accreditation process is voluntary.
community-based treatment — A concept of treatment that

focuses on the community services offered to an individual through
a system of community support. Individuals with mental illness
can remain citizens of their community if given support and
access to mainstream resources such as housing and vocational
opportunities.10
community corrections — The provision of corrections ser-

char
acter disor
der — Personality disorder.9
haracter
disorder

vices to offenders under supervision, in a low-security-level facility located within a community or neighborhood, rather than in
an institution; includes probation/parole, electronic monitoring,
and other arrangements where offenders may have access to
paid or volunteer work and/or be living within their own homes.

classif
ica
tion — A system within each correctional facility/agency
lassifica
ication

community mental health system — The system intended

bal fee for the patient case, regardless of the actual services
rendered.8

for determining and reviewing the level of security required by
each inmate, based upon history, current charges, behavior, and
perceived risk of violence or elopement.
clinical informatics — The use of information technology
and standardized protocols (e.g., algorithms or decision trees) to
evaluate and treat inmates for mental health or health problems.
clubhouse model — Based on a model developed at Fountain House in New York, a clubhouse provides support services
through a comprehensive self-help community-based center. Staff

to provide public mental health services directly to those in need
of assistance in the communities where they reside. Development of the community mental health system can be traced to
enactment of the Community Mental Health Centers Act of 1964.
Intended to provide a community-based alternative to institutional care for many people with mental illness, implementation
of the community mental health system rested on expansion of
outpatient services in the community, particularly in federally
funded community mental health centers. In many jurisdictions,
the community mental health system has yet to meet the expec-

6. Logical Health Care Solutions, Glossary, p. 14.

9. Proposed New HCPCS Procedure Codes for Mental Health Services, p. 10.

7. Proposed New HCPCS Procedure Codes for Mental Health Services, p. 3..

10. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 80.

8. Logical Health Care Solutions, Glossary, p. 21.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 307

Appendix A. Glossary

tations of its designers or those who work within it, primarily
because funding did not materialize to provide needed services.11
community policing — Philosophy of law enforcement that

includes prevention, partnering and collaboration, and problem
solving. See below for definitions of these elements.
Community Policing Consortium — The Community Po-

licing Consortium, which is funded by the Office of Community
Oriented Policing Services, is composed of the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP), National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), Police Executive Research Forum (PERF), and
Police Foundation. The consortium’s primary mission is to deliver community policing training and technical assistance to police
departments and sheriff’s offices.
computer-aided dispatch (CAD) — Systems that fully au-

tomate call taking and dispatching functions, and have the capability to provide an agency with sophisticated record keeping and
analysis functions. CAD systems work by recording caller information such as phone number and address, prioritizing calls for
service, and matching those calls to available police resources,
which are also monitored by the system using vehicle locator
systems. This enables the system to quickly reference information about call types, location, disposition, responding officer,
and many other identifiers that inform dispatchers and officers
about appropriate responses.
consumer — In the mental health system, “consumer” is the

term most frequently applied to a person who receives mental
health services. The term is sometimes used more generically to
refer to anyone who has a diagnosis of mental illness. Not all
persons with mental illness accept this terminology, however.
Some may prefer to be known simply as clients of the facilities
where they receive services. People who feel they have been
abused by the system or who reject traditional mental health
services may prefer a term such as “survivor.”
co-occurring disorder — Refers to two or more disorders

occurring simultaneously. Generally refers to mental health and
substance abuse disorders but can refer to mental health, physical health, developmental, or other disorders.12
Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) — Police program devel-

oped in Memphis, Tennessee. A CIT is comprised of designated
officers who are called upon to respond to mental disturbance
calls and crises, such as attempted suicides. These officers participate in specialized training under the instructional supervision of mental health providers, family advocates, and mental

health consumer groups. Officers trained under this program are
skilled in de-escalating potentially volatile situations, gathering
relevant history, and assessing medication information and the
individual’s social support system. The CIT is recognized as a
national program and has been replicated in communities such
as Portland, Oregon; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Seattle, Washington; San Jose, California; and Waterloo, Iowa.
cross-training — The implementation of a training program
to educate individuals from both the criminal justice and the
mental health communities on the issues and concerns each
confronts, cross-training attempts to build awareness in both
communities to help develop a more coordinated approach to the
needs of people with mental illness involved with the criminal
justice system.
cultural competence — Recognition of and response to cultural concerns of ethnic and racial groups, including their histories, traditions, beliefs, and value systems. Cultural competence
is one approach to helping mental health service systems and
professionals create better services and ensure their adequate
utilization by diverse populations. Cultural competence entails a
set of behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a
system or agency or among professionals that enables that system, or agency or those professionals to work effectively in crosscultural situations.13
current situational stressors — Circumstances and envi-

ronmental realities that create significant pressure on, or greatly
limit, an individual’s ability to function in a healthy, productive
manner.
custodial transport — The transportation of an individual

when he or she is under arrest and is not free to leave. A suspect
may be in handcuffs during custodial transport to a police station.
decompensation — Temporary return to a lower level of psy-

chological adaptation or functioning, often occurring when an
individual is under considerable stress or has discontinued psychiatric medication against medical advice.
de-escalation techniques — Verbal and nonverbal interper-

sonal skills that enable an officer to recognize and defuse violent
behavior, preferably without using force, thus preserving the
suspect’s safety and dignity.
defendant — An individual who has been charged with but not

yet convicted of a criminal charge.

11. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 79.

13. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 90.

12. Little Hoover Commission, Being There, p. 107.

14. www.webmd.com.

308 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

defense attorney or counsel — The official who represents

the defendant in a criminal case.
developmental disability — A substantial handicap in mental

formal charges and no later than a final adjudication of guilt; and
(4) it results in a dismissal of charges, or its equivalent, if the
divertee successfully completes the diversion process.15

or physical functioning, with onset before the age of 18 and of
indefinite duration. Examples are autism, cerebral
palsy, uncontrolled epilepsy, certain other neuropathies, and
mental retardation.14

diversion program — A treatment program that addresses

diagnostic profile — The symptoms exhibited by a person

drop-in centers — An integral component of psychosocial
rehabilitation that typically occurs in nonclinical settings with
minimal, if any, professional facilitation. Drop-in centers usually
focus on normalization and empowerment of people with severe
and persistent mental illness.16

that allow a clinician to arrive at a specific diagnosis.
discharge plan — A written plan that provides an inmate with

guidance to help him/her make a successful transition from institution to community. Typically includes concrete plans in several areas such as housing, employment or education, transportation, continued counseling or social services, required
supervision (i.e., probation/parole), and the like.
dispatch function — Dispatch answers phone calls and sends

patrol cars to respond to those calls. From simple service calls,
such as helping someone locked out of his/her car, to true emergency calls, such as a domestic violence call, nearly every police
response is generated from dispatch. Depending on the circumstances, every call is given a “priority” or ranking and then dispatched to the appropriate beat officers in a specific order. Dispatch composition can differ greatly from one jurisdiction to the
next. In some jurisdictions, dispatch is located in the police department and is responsible only for police emergencies. Dispatch can also be contracted with the county. The same dispatchers can be responsible for fire and ambulance emergencies
and housed separately from the police department.
dispatchers — The individuals who serve as the communications link between citizens and public safety agencies. Upon receiving emergency calls for services, they assess the public safety
response needs, dispatch the appropriate personnel and equipment, and enable continued communication between public safety
agencies.
dispositional alternative — A dispositional option in which

the judge defers or withholds adjudication of the criminal case
for a specified period with the charges dismissed or reduced
upon successful completion of the deferral period.
diversion — [A] dispositional practice is considered diversion

if: (1) it offers persons charged with criminal offenses alternatives to traditional criminal justice or juvenile justice proceedings; and (2) it permits participation by the accused only on a
voluntary basis; and (3) it occurs no sooner than the filing of

the specific needs of a person with mental illness who has been
“ diverted” from the criminal justice system either before arrest
or before trial.

emergency evaluation — In many states, a police officer
has the authority to detain an individual who exhibits predefined
characteristics of mental illness or appears to be an imminent
danger to him/herself or to others. The officer may transport
the individual to a local hospital to receive an emergency mental
health evaluation. In some instances, after an emergency mental
health evaluation police are legally required to continue detainment of the individual.
Emotionally Disturbed Person (EDP) — Term commonly

used by police to refer to people with mental illness.
entitlement — Benefits provided by the federal government

for individuals with disabilities (disability is defined as “the inability to engage in any substantial gainful activity by reason of
any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which
can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be
expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12
months”). Entitlements available to people with mental illness
include income support through the Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) programs, and health coverage under Medicaid and Medicare.17
evaluation — A face-to-face interview of the patient and a

review of all reasonably available health care records and collateral information. Evaluation includes a diagnostic formulation
and, at minimum, an initial treatment plan.
Comprehensive Mental Health Evaluation — A

face-to-face interview of the patient and a review of all
reasonably available health care records and collateral information. It includes a diagnostic formulation and, at least,
an initial treatment plan.18

15. National Association of Pretrial Services Agencies, Performance Standards:
p. 1.

17. On Our Own, Inc., Disability, Entitlements and Employment, p. 3 ; Bazelon
Center, Finding the Key, p. 1.

16. Barton, “Psychosocial Rehabilitation,” p. 526.

18. APA, Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 309

Appendix A. Glossary

evidence-based practices — Interventions and treatment

approaches that have been proven effective through a rigorous
scientific process.
face validity — Extent to which a measure seems to evaluate
a phenomenon on face value, or intuition. For example, a screening
instrument that proposes to measure the likelihood that an individual will commit suicide has face validity if, based on the opinion of knowledgeable psychiatric professionals, the screening
instrument seems likely to identify individuals who are at a risk
for suicide.
family psychoeducation — Activities to provide information

and education to families and significant others regarding mental disorders and their treatment. This activity acknowledges the
importance of involving significant others who may be essential
in assisting a client to maintain treatment and to recover. Family
psychoeducation models include courses taught by mental health
professionals as well as those taught by family members themselves.

prevent what has become known as “job lock” or the inability to
change jobs because of the fear of losing health insurance. This
act also makes it illegal to exclude people from coverage because of preexisting conditions and offers some tax deductions
to self-employed people who pay their own health insurance premiums. The act also directs the federal government to standardize billing codes and to develop privacy standards related to
individually identifiable health care information.
holding cell — Any room or cell that is used to hold incarcer-

ated subjects until the booking process is completed. In the
holding cell, a detainee typically awaits his/her initial court appearance, after which (s)he will stay in the holding cell until
(s)he is either able to pay bail or sent to another facility.
illness self-management — A growing trend within the

a term of imprisonment for one year or more.

mental health field in which clients educate themselves to recognize symptoms of their illness as well as factors that exacerbate
or ameliorate them. By managing those factors and taking remedial steps when symptoms become acute, some find they are
able to avoid more intrusive interventions by professionals. Those
consumers who are successful in managing their illness gain
confidence in their ability to achieve recovery.

Field Training Officer (FTO) — A new recruit generally goes

inmate — An individual remanded to the custody of a local/

felony — An offense for which there is a sentence of death or

through the Field Training Officer program after finishing academy training. The purpose of the FTO program is to prepare
officers in training to perform the essential duties of a police
officer and enhance the professionalism of future patrol divisions through continuous quality improvement. Not all police departments have FTO programs.
formularies — A standard list of the most commonly used

county, state, or federal correctional facility, including jails and
prisons.
inmate self-reporting — Obtaining personal information di-

rectly from inmates, a practice that often lacks reliability.
inpatient facility — Any medical facility—usually a hospi-

medications and preparations used within an institution and stored
at the facility in sufficient quantities to meet demand.

tal—where patients stay for a period of time to receive treatment. Most mental health systems differentiate between acute
care (short-term) facilities and long-term care facilities.

functional assessment — An evaluation of an inmate’s ability

institutional care — Refers not only to hospital-based treat-

to function in society (e.g., socially, employment, personal care, etc.).

ment given to a patient, usually within a state mental health
facility, on a long-term basis, but also to the more restrictive,
less normalized aspects of such treatment.

gatekeeper functions — The functions performed by law

enforcement personnel and Crisis Intervention Team members
for people with mental illness. Refers to the fact that these
personnel often make the initial contact with persons exhibiting
characteristics of mental illness or are the first responders to
mental health emergencies and are often responsible for referring individuals to adequate mental health services.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
(HIPAA) — Legislation intended to provide portability of em-

ployer-sponsored insurance from one job to another in order to

19. Little Hoover Commission, Being There, p. 107.

310 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

instrument/instrumentation — Forms or other written tools

used to obtain information in a standardized manner to ensure
consistency and thorough data collection; usually refers to questionnaires or surveys that have been field-tested for validity and
reliability to maximize the likelihood that they measure what they
are intended to measure and are likely to do so consistently.
intake — A set of procedures for accepting an offender into a

correctional facility as an inmate. Includes obtaining personal

history and information, searching personal belongings, and assigning housing, among other procedures.
integrated services — Generally refers to providing an array

of services through a single agency or entity. Often requires
discretionary or blended funding to cover the cost of multiple
services. A term most frequently used in the mental health field
when referring to services for co-occurring mental illness and
substance abuse disorders.19

Medicaid — Medicaid is a jointly funded, federal/state health
insurance program for low-income and disabled people who
meet needs-based eligibility requirements. Nationally, it covers
approximately 36 million individuals including children, the aged,
the blind, and/or disabled and people who are eligible to receive
federally assisted income maintenance payments.21
Medicare — Federal health insurance program primarily for
older Americans and people who retired early due to disability.22

jail — A correctional facility designed to detain individuals pend-

memorandum of understanding — Interagency agreement

ing judicial hearings or to provide brief periods of incarceration,
generally less than one year, for sentenced inmates. Jails are
typically operated by local or county jurisdictions.

that serves as a guideline for shared activities.

Law Enforcement Steering Committee (LESC) — The

Law Enforcement Steering Committee is a coalition of national
police labor, management, and research organizations representing more than 550,000 law enforcement professionals. The LESC
consists of the Federal Law Enforcement Officers’ Association
(FLEOA), Fraternal Order of Police (FOP), International Brotherhood of Police Officers (IBPO), Major Cities Chiefs (MCC), National Association of Police Organizations (NAPO), National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE), National
Troopers Coalition (NTC), Police Executive Research Forum (PERF),
and Police Foundation.
less-than-lethal (LTL) force — Force that is not likely to

cause death or serious bodily harm. Examples of nonlethal weapons include pepper spray, stun guns, and bean bag “bullets.”
leveraged treatment — An approach to ensure an individual

receives treatment he or she may not otherwise accept. Both
conditional treatment and mandated treatment may be considered leveraged treatment.
mainstreaming — The integration of individuals with mental

illness back into their communities and a functional life within
the community with the assistance of community treatment programs.
maladaptive thinking — Thought patterns and decision-mak-

ing processes that, rather than promoting productive and healthy
solutions, result in further negative consequences for the individual and do not necessarily solve the problem.
managed care — Managed care represents an approach to

funding health care services. Generally, managed care provides
a specific level of funding to serve a population of people. Managed care programs often restrict clients to seeing providers from
an approved list and may limit available services.20

mental illness — Term that refers collectively to all diagnos-

able mental disorders. Mental disorders are health conditions
that are characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/
or impaired functioning.23
Serious mental illness — A term defined by federal

regulations that generally applies to mental disorders that
interfere with some area of social functioning.24
Severe mental illness — A term that applies to more

seriously affected individuals. This category includes schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, other severe forms of depression, panic disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Severe and persistent mental illness — A term

that incorporates the concepts of chronicity or recurrence
with the definition above, often used to describe clients
with a high level of need.
Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) — Teams composed of mental

health service professionals who provide on-scene responses in
mental health emergencies.
noncustodial transport — Transport of an individual by the
police who is not under arrest and may leave at any time. Examples of noncustodial transport may include shelter relocation
for a person who is homeless or transport to a hospital for a
person who has a mental illness.
non-sworn personnel — Includes dispatchers, clerks, tech-

nicians, and employees who are sworn for correctional or civil
purposes but do not possess sworn powers outside of these departments. Also known as civilian employees.
offender — An individual who has been convicted of a crimi-

nal charge.

20. Little Hoover Commission, Young Hearts & Minds, p. 128.

23. Ibid., p. 4.

21. Ibid., p. 128.

24. Ibid., p. 46.

22. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 74.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 311

Appendix A. Glossary

outpatient treatment — Any treatment that takes place on

an outpatient (as opposed to inpatient or residential) basis.
outstanding warrants — Warrants that indicate that an indi-

vidual has not properly resolved a police or court order, or that
the individual has eluded the service of an arrest warrant.
parity laws — Federal and state laws that remove limits im-

posed by insurance providers on access to mental health care
that are more restrictive than limits imposed on access to physical health care. Legislation requiring insurers to cover access to
mental and physical health care under equivalent terms and conditions is referred to as parity legislation.25

no contest, among others.
plea discussion — A discussion between the prosecutor and
the defense attorney about an agreeable way to resolve a criminal case.
plea offer — An offer presented by the prosecutor to the de-

fense attorney for the resolution of a criminal case.
post-acute withdrawal — A cluster of symptoms that typi-

cally manifest following the initial period of physical withdrawal
from the use of addictive drugs or medications (e.g., agitation, or
depression, and the like).

incarceration and transferred to community supervision prior to
the end of their sentence, given exceptional behavior and rehabilitation during incarceration and a comprehensive review by a
parole board. Parole has been abolished in a number of states in
recent years.

prebooking diversion — Response strategy through which a
police officer can avoid detaining and filing criminal charges
against a person with a possible mental illness by making an
immediate referral to community mental health services or directly transporting the individual to a designated hospital or dropoff center.

partnering and collaboration — The processes by which

presentence investigation report — A report prepared by

several individuals or agencies make formal, sustained commitments to work together to accomplish a common mission. For
police officers in particular, partnering and collaboration involve
working with community members, sometimes called stakeholders, who have a vested interest in the problem and who are willing to commit time, talents, and resources toward its solution.
(See community policing.)

pretrial detention — Holding a defendant in custody while

parole — A process whereby inmates can be released from

Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) — State

POSTs set standards for police training and education for officers in all departments located in that state. All states set such
standards, however not all use the term POST.

a probation officer to provide the sentencing judge with thorough
background information on the offender to be sentenced.
the criminal case is pending adjudication.
pretrial diversion — A dispositional option in which the pros-

ecutor offers a person charged with a criminal offense an alternative to having the case prosecuted in the traditional criminal
proceedings, with the charges dismissed or reduced upon successful completion of the diversion period.

peer educators — Usually refers to mental health consumers

pretrial release/detention hearing — The hearing at which
the judge considers whether to release or detain a defendant.

who work with their “peers” on a volunteer or paid basis to help
them understand and more effectively manage their mental illness. Can also refer to family members who conduct family education courses or any group in which shared experience forms
the basis for the trainer-trainee relationship.

pretrial services program — A program that provides background information about a defendant to the judge at the pretrial
release/detention hearing, and that supervises conditions of pretrial release imposed by the court.

pharmacotherapeutic protocols — Standardized method-

prevention — A policing strategy that focuses on reducing

ologies for the use of medical or psychiatric medications (e.g.,
dosing patterns and instructions, monitoring blood levels, observing both clinical impact and side effects, reviewing the need
for continuation or discontinuation, etc.).

crime and the opportunity for crime. Prevention encompasses
but goes far beyond the concepts of home security and personal
safety and extends to the whole community and its engagement
with public safety. (See community policing.)

plea — A defendant’s answer to the criminal charges made

prison — A correctional facility that houses inmates generally
sentenced to a period of incarceration exceeding one year. Pris-

against him or her. The defendant may plead guilty, not guilty,

25. Little Hoover Commission, Being There, p. 107.

312 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

ons are typically operated by state corrections agencies, although
private companies also operate prisons in some states.
probation — A sentence imposed by the court on an offender

that requires the offender to abide by specified conditions, under
supervision in the community by a probation officer, for a specified period of time.
problem solving — Strategy of policing, also known as prob-

lem-oriented policing, that challenges officers to analyze the reasons for repeated incidents of a particular crime(s) and to address the underlying problems, factors, or issues that might be
responsible for these repeated incidents. Many credit Herman
Goldstein, a University of Wisconsin law professor, as the father
of problem-oriented policing. (See community policing.)

mental disorders. They are most characteristically associated
with schizophrenia but psychotic symptoms can also occur in
severe mood disorders.27
psychotropic medications — Prescription drugs that ad-

dress psychiatric symptoms, usually given to reduce anxiety, depression, or other consequences of mental illness such as hallucinations, delusions, or bizarre thinking. (See atypical
antipsychotics.)
quality of life crimes — Minor illegal behaviors (generally

misdemeanors) that jeopardize the community’s sense of wellbeing and safety, e.g., loitering, aggressive panhandling, vandalism, littering, public urination, graffiti, and noise violations. Also
known as nuisance crimes.

Program of Assertive Community Treatment (PACT)

recidivism/recidivate — The return of a released ex-inmate

— See Assertive Community Treatment.

to custody in a correctional facility. Typically results from either
an arrest for a new crime or from a technical violation such as
failure to meet conditions of release (probation/parole).

prosecution — The pursuit of criminal charges against an

individual in court.
prosecutor — The official who brings charges in court and

represents the government in prosecuting those charges.
protective order — Order of the court that is issued to pro-

vide immediate, short-term protection of a person or property.
psychiatric symptomatology — The array of symptoms that

an individual with mental illness may display.
psychosocial difficulty — Problems an individual may have

recovery — Most people with mental illness see recovery as a
process tied closely to the experience of gaining a new and valued sense of self and purpose, although some may see it as the
end state of that process. Many treatment approaches today are
defined as “recovery-oriented,” meaning that they provide consumers with tools that will enable them to gain a combination of
self-esteem and self-reliance, in turn allowing them to become
increasingly or fully independent of the mental health system.
referral — The process by which inmates who appear to be in

relating to people as a result of a psychiatric disorder.

need of mental health treatment receive targeted assessment or
evaluation so that they can be assigned to appropriate services.

psychosocial rehabilitation — Professional mental health

relapse prevention — The steps taken in mental health and/

services that bring together approaches from the rehabilitation
and the mental health fields. These services combine pharmacological treatment, skills training, and psychological and social
support to clients and families in order to improve their lives and
functional capacities.26
psychotic symptoms/episodes — Hallucinations and de-

lusions are the most common types of psychotic symptoms demonstrated. However, other symptoms of schizophrenia are divided into two classes: positive symptoms and negative symptoms.
Positive symptoms generally involve the experience of something in consciousness that would not normally be present, such
as hallucinations and delusions. Negative symptoms reflect the
absence of thoughts and behaviors that would otherwise be expected. Psychotic symptoms may occur in a wide variety of

or substance abuse treatment to avert relapse.
risk-sharing arrangements — Contractual arrangement to

share in financial risks and rewards associated with various health
care management techniques.28
roll call — Brief period at beginning of every police officer’s

tour of duty. During this time, assignments are given out and
officers are alerted to any special situations requiring their attention. Roll call is also a useful time to provide short 15-to-20
minute training sessions on timely topics. For example, roll call
can be an appropriate time to show a short video or explain how
a new law or court case affects the department.
Scan Analysis Response Assessment (SARA) — Prob-

lem-solving model developed by police officers and researchers

26. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 98.

28. Logical Health Care Solutions, Glossary, p. 103.

27. Little Hoover Commission, Being There, p. 107.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 313

Appendix A. Glossary

in Newport News, Virginia, in the early to mid-1980s. SARA model
consists of scanning, analysis, response, and assessment, and
is a helpful framework for those engaged in crime control and
crime reduction.
schizophrenia — A disorder of the prefrontal cortex and its

ability to perform the essential cognitive function of working
memory. Schizophrenia is characterized by profound disruption
in cognition and emotion, affecting the most fundamental human
attributes: language, thought, perception, affect, and sense of
self. The array of symptoms, while wide ranging, frequently
includes psychotic manifestations, such as hearing internal voices
or experiencing other sensations not connected to an obvious
source (hallucinations) and assigning unusual significance or
meaning to normal events or holding fixed false personal beliefs
(delusions).29
screening
receiving mental health screening — Mental health

information and observations gathered for every new admitted inmate during the intake procedures as part of the
normal reception and classification process by using standard forms and following standard procedures.30
intake mental health screening — A more compre-

hensive examination performed on each newly admitted
inmate within 14 days of arrival at an institution. It usually includes a review of the medical screening, behavior
observations, an inquiry into any mental health history,
and an assessment of suicide potential.31
sedative hypnotics — Sedative-hypnotic drugs depress cen-

tral nervous system function. Used both as tranquilizers and sleeping pills, these prescribed medications decrease anxiety, produce
calm, and promote sleep; in addition, they are used as
anticonvulsants and muscle relaxants.
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) — A
class of antidepressants that primarily blocks the action of the
transporter protein for a neurotransmitter, serotonin, thus leaving more serotonin to remain at the synapse. These medications
appear to be effective because serotonin is directly involved in
the body’s ability to regulate moods. Examples of these medications include such brands as Prozac, Paxil, Celexa, and Zoloft.32
sentence of time served — A sentence imposed by the

sentencing hearing — The hearing at which the judge im-

poses a sentence on an offender.
sheriff — The chief law enforcement officer of the county,

whose general duties include keeping the peace within the county,
apprehending persons who break the peace, serving as custodian to the county jail, and performing services to the county’s
courts.
Social Security Disability Income (SSDI) — Individuals

who worked are “insured” by the Social Security taxes (F.I.C.A.)
that are withheld from their earnings to replace part of a person’s
earnings upon retirement, disability, or for survivors when a worker
dies. If insured workers (and, in some cases, their dependents
or survivors) become disabled, they may become eligible for SSDI
benefits. The amount received is dependent upon how many
years an individual has worked and the individual must apply to
determine if (s)he is eligible for benefits.33 (See also entitlements.)
somatic disorders — Disorders affecting the body, as distin-

guished from mental disorders.
Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) Unit — Special

police units that respond to high-risk incidents involving hostages, barricaded suspects, sniper situations, terrorism, and riot
control.
substance abuse — Substance abuse stands alone as a disorder contributing annually to the deaths of 120,000 Americans.
As many as half of people with mental illness develop alcohol or
other drug abuse problems at some point in their lives. Theories
to explain this co-morbidity range from genetic to psychosocial,
but empirical support for any one theory is inconclusive. Comorbidity worsens clinical course and outcomes for individuals
with mental disorders. It is associated with symptom exacerbation, treatment noncompliance, more frequent hospitalization,
greater depression and likelihood of suicide, incarceration, family friction, and high services, use, and cost. In light of the
extent of mental disorder and substance abuse co-morbidity, substance abuse treatment is a critical element of treatment for
people with mental disorders.34
suicidality — A term that encompasses suicidal thoughts, ide-

ation, plans, suicide attempts, and completed suicide.35

court upon an offender that provides that the time the offender
already spent in custody while the case was pending adjudication is sufficient punishment.

suicide screen — An interview or questionnaire designed to

29. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 269-70

32. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 68-9.

30. Ibid.

33. On Our Own of Maryland, Inc., Disability, Entitlements and Employment, p. 14.

31. APA, Psychiatric Services in Jails and Prisons.

34. U.S. Dept. of HHS, Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General, p. 288

314 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

determine whether an individual is currently experiencing thoughts,
feelings, impulses, or actual plans to commit suicide.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) — The SSI Program was established in 1974 as a mechanism for incorporating
various state programs into one federal program. SSI is a program that provides direct federal payments to the aged, blind,
and disabled people who have limited income and resources.36
(See also entitlements.)
support services — Rehabilitative services that are not strictly

medical but are nonetheless considered to be necessary to the
recovery process for many clients. Such services are designed
to develop and/or restore a patient’s functional capacities and
may include support to enable clients to maintain independent
housing, education, employment, or other activities associated
with community integration.
supported employment — An evidence-based service that

matches and trains persons with severe developmental, mental,
or physical disabilities to jobs where their specific skills and
abilities make them valuable assets to employers.
supportive housing — A system of professional and/or peer

supports that allows a person with mental illness to live independently in the community. Such supports may include regular
staff contact and assistance as needed with household chores,
as well as the availability of crisis services or other services
designed to prevent relapse, such as mental health, substance
abuse, and employment. Also known as supported housing.
sworn personnel — All law enforcement officers with full

arrest powers who take an oath to uphold the United States Constitution and the constitutions of their respective states, e.g.,
chiefs, sheriffs, supervisors of line officers, and line officers
active in the field.
symptom acuity — The severity of symptoms experienced by

a patient, usually requiring self-reporting, and rated on a scale
of 1 to 10.
telemedicine/telepsychiatry — Provision of health care or

psychiatry via telecommunications, typically utilizing medical
computer sciences. A qualified mental health professional is
able to interview and examine the detainee through the use of
closed-circuit television or telephone.37
training
in-service — Annual training required by most jurisdic-

tions of all officers. Training topics can include: orientation to the agency’s role, purpose, goals, policies, and procedures; working conditions and regulations, firearms
qualifications; any new department policies or procedures;

and relevant legal updates. In-service requirements differ
in every state and requirements can change yearly depending on state and/or local guidelines.
recruit/preservice — Training required by police and

sheriffs’ departments for new recruits at academy. Recruit
training involves curriculum ranging from criminal law, defensive tactics, conflict management/crisis intervention
training, community policing, investigative procedures to
motor vehicle law and patrol procedures. Content and length
of training offered varies in every jurisdiction depending
on state local guidelines.
transitional employment — A key component of psychoso-

cial rehabilitation in which consumers set their own vocational
goals, which form the basis for motivation toward recovery of
vocational roles.38
traumatic brain injury — An often devastating condition

characterized by changes that occur when a particular area of
the brain is struck, penetrated, or pierced. Symptoms of traumatic brain injury such as poor judgment or poor impulse control
can mimic symptoms of some mental illnesses.39
Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) — Federal reporting sys-

tem that provides data on crime based on police statistics submitted by city, county, and state law enforcement agencies across
the nation. The Crime Index total is the sum of selected offenses
used to gauge fluctuations in the overall volume and rate of
crime reported to law enforcement. The offenses included in the
Crime Index total are the violent crimes of murder and
nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, and the property crimes of burglary, larceny-theft,
and motor vehicle theft.
uniformed patrol — Police division responsible for the im-

mediate response to calls for service. The members of this unit
are all distinctively uniformed.
vocational rehabilitation (VR) — This term covers a wide

range of services designed to assist individuals with disabilities
in regaining skills needed to function in the workplace. It is
generally delivered under the auspices of a state department of
vocational rehabilitation and supported by state and federal appropriations. Eligibility for VR programs is established under the
federal Rehabilitation Act. Programs offered by state VR agencies
may include supported employment, Ticket to Work, Pathways to
Independence, and work-readiness programs.

35. National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, p. 203.

38. Barton, “Psychosocial Rehabilitation,” p. 526.

36. On Our Own of Maryland, Inc., Disability, Entitlements and Employment, p. 12.

39. www.webmd.com.

37. Logical Health Care Solutions, Glossary, p. 110.
Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 315

Appendix B

Program Examples
Cited in Report

STATE:

Alabama

Birmingham Police Department
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Birmingham Police Department
PROGRAM TITLE:

Community Service Officer Unit
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

On-Scene Assessment and On-Scene Response
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1976

Overview

The Community Service Officer Unit responds to calls involving individuals in crisis, including people with mental illness, survivors of violent crimes, and missing persons.
Description

In 1976, the Crisis Intervention Taskforce in Birmingham
decided to increase training and develop a Community Service
Officer (CSO) unit in the Birmingham Police Department. The
unit responds to every problem along the social work spectrum,
including elder abuse, child endangerment, domestic violence,
and mental illness. It was initially formed as a pilot program
and was funded by the state of Alabama Community Education
Training Act (CETA). The unit is now fully funded by the city of
Birmingham.
When a patrol officer responds to a call for service involving a person with mental illness, the officer decides if a Community Service Officer (CSO) should provide secondary response.
The CSO unit is staffed by six social workers that are housed
within the department and report to the chief. The CSO unit can
facilitate certain direct services that officers are not fully trained
to provide (e.g., crisis intervention), make referrals, and transport consumers to the primary mental health-care facility.
Currently, University Hospital has been designated as the
primary emergency health care facility for people with mental
illness. Police officers can bring people who are in a mental

316 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

health crisis to this location. This centralized location prevents
confusion in coordinating follow-up services. The police department has developed a positive relationship with the psychiatric
nurses who facilitate emergency care in the ER.
The CSO unit has developed a policy manual/ reference
guide for sergeants. New recruits to the police force attend a 12hour block of instruction in the academy on people with mental
illness and crisis intervention. In 2001 the CSO unit also provided training to sergeants with a workshop/ training session
about the unit’s capabilities and resources.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

The CSO unit would like to survey people who use the
program’s resources so that the department can evaluate its success in responding to community needs. Birmingham is also
attempting to develop a CSO program for its Sheriff’s Department, but its progress has been delayed due to funding considerations.
Contact Information

Senior Community Service Officer
Birmingham Police Department
1710 First Avenue North
Birmingham, AL 35203
Phone: (205) 254-2793
Fax: (205) 254-1703

STATE:

Alabama

Florence Police Department
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION

Florence Police Department
PROGRAM TITLE

Community Mental Health Officer
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

On-Scene Assessment and On-Scene Response
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1997

Overview

The Florence Police Department uses a modified Crisis
Intervention Team approach, in which one officer serves as a
“Community Mental Health Officer” and is the second responder
to all calls involving people with mental illness. The officer in
this position receives approximately 100 hours of mental health
training.
Description

Challenges/Areas for Improvement

The Florence Police Department is developing methods for
connecting people with substance abuse treatment, while avoiding unnecessary interactions with the corrections system. (Currently, the only way people with mental illness can access substance abuse treatment is through the jail.) The department also
intends to address the perceived lack of adequate responses to
people with mental illness who are adjudicated through the Drug
Court.
Contact Information

Florence Police Department
701 South Court Street
Florence, AL 35630
Phone: (256) 760-6603

The Community Mental Health Officer (CMHO) responds
24 hours a day, seven days a week to pages and/or calls from
officers who encounter a situation involving a person with mental illness who is in crisis or who appears dangerous or threatening. Upon responding, the officer determines whether the person
requires immediate psychiatric evaluation. In Florence, the CMHO
has the same authority as a probate court judge to make an
involuntary commitment for 48 hours, but she can also file a
petition with the judge for a longer period. It is not necessary for
the CMHO to wait for a petition from the judge to bring the person in for evaluation and, consequently, responding patrol officers feel less inclined to find a “petty” complaint under which to
take the person into custody.
The Community Mental Health Officer also reviews arrest
reports weekly to check the status of arrestees who have been
identified as having a mental illness that requires treatment, and
determines whether arrestees are compliant with their medication or if their condition is worsening and emergency treatment
is needed. The officer also maintains a log of arrestees and
maintains contact with a liaison at the partnering mental health
agency for follow-up.
The Community Mental Health Officer maintains a close
relationship with the local hospital emergency room for responding to injuries or other medical conditions. The emergency room
has developed a “fast track” procedure, in which the officer calls
ahead to ensure that the arrestee will receive prompt service at
the hospital.
In 2001, the CMHO and the Alabama State Department of
Mental Health collaborated on the development of a statewide,
40-hour, post-academy training. This training will be provided
for all officers in the state and will include role plays and lectures from doctors to teach basics in addressing issues related
to mental illness and substance abuse.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 317

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

Alaska

STATE:

Arizona

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Alaska Department of Corrections

Maricopa County Adult Probation Department

PROGRAM TITLE:

PROGRAM TITLE:

Mental Health Management System

Conditional Community Release Program

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Receiving and Intake of Sentenced Inmates

Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

N/A

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2000

Overview

Overview

The Alaska Department of Corrections has developed a
screening tool that can be administered by trained, non-medical
staff. The tool can be downloaded, administered, and immediately sent to the department’s central office using handheld personal desk assistants or Palm Pilots. Mental health professionals in the central office can then make assessments and
recommend or initiate appropriate interventions, if needed.

The Conditional Community Release Program provides community-based supervision for offenders with mental illness and
helps to ensure that program participants receive appropriate
treatment.

Description

There are 13 correctional and pretrial facilities within the
state of Alaska, where geography and low population density
present particular challenges. To ensure consistent, comprehensive inmate mental health screening, the Department of Corrections has developed the mental health management system.
The software for Alaska’s program was written by Department of Correction’s staff and has been copyrighted. The Palm
Pilot serves not only as an electronic means of keeping medical
records, but as a platform for the entire management information
system. The platform-interactive database provides for a standardized assessment system. All clinicians perform the same,
standardized exam on the Palm Pilot. It is structured as a psychiatric interview and produces comprehensive psychological diagnosis and treatment planning. The information is then uploaded to a statewide computer network and becomes available
for printing for medical files. The system makes it possible to
generate information is summary and/or aggregate form, thereby
facilitating quality assurance and research. For example, information and reports can be generated by facility, by activity levels
within a facility, or by diagnostic or prescription trends at a facility.
Contact Information

Alaska Department of Corrections
Mental Health Services
4500 Diplomacy Drive
Suite 211
Anchorage, AK 99508
Phone: (907) 269-7316

318 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Description

The Conditional Community Release Program employs a
contract psychiatrist, probation officer, surveillance officer, and
intake specialist to identify, diagnose, and supervise offenders
with mental illness. Once referred, the inmate is evaluated within
72 hours by an intake specialist. If appropriate, the inmate is
admitted to the program and jail-release planning is undertaken.
The psychiatrist will see the person in jail in order to ensure
continuity of care once released, and the probation officer will
see the client to complete all necessary paperwork.
Once released, the probationer may be placed in a housing
facility funded by adult probation, or released to his or her home
if appropriate. While in the community, the probation officer and
surveillance officer supervise the client. The psychiatrist provides follow-up treatment if the client is not enrolled in community treatment. Using contracts with a local medical services
agency, the program provides medication at a reduced cost and
ensures that the clients receive necessary psychological testing.
The program is 45 days in length, at which time the client
is transferred back to his or her original probation officer or
referred to a specialized mental health caseload. In the event
the client is not stabilized, the county will continue to serve the
client until this is accomplished.
Contact Information

Maricopa County Adult Probation Department
111 S. Third Avenue, 3rd Floor
P.O. Box 3407
Phoenix, AZ 85030
Phone: (602) 506-7249
Web site: www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/adultPro/
index.asp

STATE:

Arizona

Maricopa County Sheriff ’s Office
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
PROGRAM TITLE:

Data Link Project
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1999

Overview

The Data Link Project allows the Maricopa County Sheriff’s
Office to cross-reference names of detainees with the records of
the local behavioral health provider in order to identify individuals who may be eligible for diversion from the criminal justice
system.
Description

When individuals are booked into the county jail, their name,
date of birth, social security number, and gender are entered into
the Data Link Program database. The system electronically and
simultaneously cross-references the individual’s name with the
database of the local behavioral health authority, which includes
names and information for more than 12,000 clients who receive
mental health services in the area. The data link provides for
continued identification of clients throughout the day, regardless
of booking charge, time of booking, or current mental status.
The information flows only one-way—from the jail to the mental
health provider.
Clients that match all categories are considered a full match
and their names are immediately sent electronically to the jail
diversion staff computer as well as the client’s case manager.
Full match screens contain the client’s booking number, a maximum of three booking charges, court jurisdiction(s), and general
demographic information. Clients that match at least one of the
categories, with the exception of gender, are considered a partial
match and are only sent to the jail diversion staff. The jail diversion staff further investigates partial matches, which are either
converted to full matches or deleted from the system. If converted to a full match, the case manager then electronically receives notification of the client’s admission to jail.
After full matches are determined, the jail diversion staff
use various criteria to select candidates for the jail diversion
program. The criteria include, but are not limited to:
“
nature of the current offense(s)
“
history of incarceration
“
current mental status
“
availability of community mental health resources
“
public safety factors
“
past performance in treatment settings.

The jail mental health diversion program consists of three
types of intervention: Clients may be released from jail with
conditions that include treatment; clients may be placed on summary (unsupervised) probation, which includes mandatory treatment; or clients may be given the opportunity for deferred prosecution in an intervention that includes increased judicial
participation and supervision, and required treatment participation over a specified period of time. Successful completion of
all requirements results in dropping criminal charges. All three
types of diversion programs require mandatory group therapy
sessions, including integrated treatment group for co-occurring
disorders, which accounts for about 70 percent of the diversion
population.
For individuals who are eligible for diversion, case managers are required to send pertinent clinical and care information
to the jail diversion staff within 24 hours. They also must visit
the client in the jail within 72 hours of incarceration, and at least
once every 14 days thereafter until the inmate is released from
jail.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

One of the risks of the system is jeopardizing the offender’s
right to privacy by the automatic sharing of information that occurs. However, advocacy groups were involved with the formation of the program so as to try to eliminate many of these
concerns from the outset.
Contact Information

Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office
102 W. Madison Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85003
Phone: (602) 256-1801
Web Site: www.mcso.org

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 319

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

Arizona

STATE: California

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Pima County Pretrial Services

Board of Corrections

PROGRAM TITLE:

PROGRAM TITLE:

Mental Health Diversion Program

Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant
(MIOCRG) Program

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Prosecutorial Review of Charges
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1997

Overview

The Mental Health Diversion Program provides the court
with an alternative to incarceration for defendants with mental
illness who are charged with city court misdemeanors.
Description

The prosecutor, in conjunction with the case manager, determines eligibility for the Mental Health Diversion Program.
Prosecution is deferred for eligible defendants, who are granted
conditional release with certain requirements, including behavioral health treatment. Compliance with these conditions is monitored by pretrial services. If the defendant successfully completes the program, which lasts 180 days, charges are dismissed.
If they fail to comply with program conditions, prosecution resumes.
Since the implementation of the Mental Health Diversion
Program, there have been no filings for Rule 11 (competency to
stand trial) hearings in the city court. This has resulted in great
savings to the community. The number of misdemeanant defendants detained beyond their initial appearance has decreased
significantly each year, and, just as significantly, the number of
misdemeanor defendants remaining in custody more than 30 days
has decreased to a negligible number (fewer than five in each
jail population reviewed during the first quarter of 2000).
Contact Information

Pima County Pretrial Services
110 W. Congress, 9th Floor
Tucson, AZ 85701-1317
Phone: (520) 740-3322
Fax: (520) 620-0536
Web site: www.sc.co.pima.az.us/Pretrial/

320 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Obtaining and Sharing Resources, Collecting
Data
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1998

Overview

The MIOCRG was initiated in 1998 by the California State
Sheriff’s Association and the Mental Health Association in an
effort to reduce crime, jail crowding, and criminal justice costs
associated with offenders with mental illness. The California
State Legislature first authorized the program in 1998 and reauthorized the program in 2000-2001. The program is overseen by
the California Board of Corrections and has provided over $104
million in grants for 30 projects in 26 counties.
Description

To be eligible for a grant, the program required counties to
establish a Strategy Committee that included key leaders from
the criminal justice and mental health communities (e.g., sheriff,
superior court judge, county mental health director). The authorizing statute required the Strategy Committees to develop a Local Plan that described the county’s existing response to offenders with mental illness, service gaps that had been identified,
and proposed strategies for improving service to offenders with
mental illness. The legislature earmarked $2 million for noncompetitive planning grants to assist counties in developing these
plans.
The grants were awarded in multiple phases based on the
three separate legislative appropriations. The first set of appropriations was made in May 1999 and totaled $22.9 million to
seven counties. The 1999/2000 State Budget appropriated an
additional $27.7 million to the grant program; these funds were
distributed to six counties. The Board of Corrections refers to
the grantees from 1999 and 2000 as MIOCRG I. The 2000/20001
State Budget included an additional $50 million for the grant
program. In May 2001, 15 counties received grants totaling approximately $45.7 million. The Board of Corrections refers to
these fifteen counties as MIOCRG II.
The MIOCRG requires the Board of Corrections to develop
a plan to evaluate the efficacy of the program in reaching its
stated goals of reducing crime, jail crowding, and criminal justice costs associated with offenders with mental illness. The
board staff developed a research design in conjunction with funded
counties. This research plan requires counties to collect com-

Board of Corrections
continued

STATE:

California

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Department of Mental Health
mon data elements concerning the population served, the services provided, and the efficacy of the programs. The counties
submit data to the board every six months. In addition, the
program requires counties to evaluate their project by establishing outcome and performance measures and conducting a process assessment. This two-tiered evaluation allows the board to
focus on cross-site evaluations while the counties can concentrate on the unique aspects of their program.
Contact Information

California State Board of Corrections
600 Bercut Drive
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-5073
Fax: (916) 327-3317
Web site: www.bdcorr.ca.gov/cppd/miocrg/miocrg.htm

PROGRAM TITLE:

California State Task Force
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Workforce
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2000

Overview

In California, a state law directed a task force led by the
Department of Mental Health to identify options for meeting the
mental health staffing needs of state and county health, human
services, and criminal justice agencies.
Description

In 2000, the California State Assembly passed a bill in
response to the shortage of mental health professionals throughout the state of California. The bill directed the representatives
of the task force funded by the Budget Act of 2000 to address
and identify options for meeting the staffing needs of state and
county health, human services, and criminal justice agencies.
The task force has representatives from the Department of Mental Health, the California State University, the California Community Colleges, and a number of other educational and mental
health stakeholders. The bill also instructed the task force to
establish regional training centers and to develop a grant program for students in California colleges and universities that
offer certain degrees in order to attract students to employment
in publicly funded mental health services. The task force will
report its findings to the Legislature by May 1, 2002.
Also in California, the Center for Health Professions at the
University of California, San Francisco, has created the California
Workforce Initiative to look broadly at needs in the health care
workforce, including the behavioral health care field.
The programs have begun implementing several areas of
development on the issue of staffing shortages. However, data has
yet to be examined concerning the outcome of these programs.
Contact Information

California Department of Mental Health
1600 9th Street, Rm. 151
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 654-3565
Fax: (916) 654-3198
Email: dmh@dmhhq.state.ca.us
Web site: www.dmh.cahwnet.gov/default.asp

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 321

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

California

Long Beach Police Department
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Long Beach Police Department
PROGRAM TITLE:

Mental Evaluation Team
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

On-Scene Assessment and On-Scene Response
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1996

Overview

The Mental Evaluation Team (MET) pairs a police officer
and clinician to respond to calls for service involving people with
mental illness.
Description

The MET program was designed with the following goals:
to prevent unnecessary incarceration and/or hospitalization of
individuals with mental illness; to prevent duplication of mental
health services; to protect the community and individuals who
may be a danger to themselves or others; and to enable police
patrol units to return quickly to service.
MET units can be dispatched either directly to calls involving mental health issues or in support of a request for assistance from patrol units. In the latter case, the MET takes over
the call, allowing the patrol unit to respond to other calls. The
MET unit focuses on calm, supportive, and respectful interactions with individuals with mental illness and only uses force as
a last resort. Currently, the MET program provides response to
calls for service during 10 hours a day, seven days a week.
The MET has led to cost-savings for the county because
officers can assess which individuals have private insurance,
Medi Cal (which allows individuals to use private hospitals), or
no insurance. If a person with MediCal is sent to the county
hospital, the county pays twice for the person. Additionally, the
MET is able to direct patients away from an already overburdened County Hospital.
One of the core strengths of the MET program is the training for participating officers.
The Long Beach Police Department mandates both academy and in-service training on issues related to responding to
people with mental illness. New recruits must attend a six-hour
course on issues involving people with disabilities. This portion
of the training is mandated by the state. Additionally, recruits are
required to attend a class called Field Contacts with People with
Mental Illnesses. This training is not state-mandated. The Field
Contacts course is also part of the in-service training.
The Los Angeles County Mental Health Department funds
the MET team and its additional training. During its first three
years of operation, the MET team handled 1,810 calls for service,

322 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

hospitalizing 838 people, (46 percent). Of the persons hospitalized, 357 (43 percent) were hospitalized privately, for a costsavings of $785,400. During this same time period there were
less than ten uses of force.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

With additional funding, Long Beach would like to extend
this program to provide 24- hour-a-day/seven-days-a-week response.
Contact Information

Long Beach Police Department
400 W. Broadway
Long Beach, CA 90802
Phone: (949) 770-6501
Fax: (562) 570-7114
Web site: www.ci.long-beach.ca.us/lbpd/

STATE:

California

STATE:

California

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Pacific Clinics: Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside,
and San Bernardino Counties

Orange County Probation Department

PROGRAM TITLE:

Project IMPACT

Pacific Clinics

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Cultural Competency
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

PROGRAM TITLE:

Sentencing
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1987

1999

Overview
Overview

The Pacific Clinics provide mental health treatment in a
community environment to individuals in Southern California,
with a special focus on cultural sensitivity to members of Latino
and Asian populations.
Description

Pacific Clinics, a provider of behavioral health care services in Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, and San Bernardino
counties in California, has made a priority of establishing services to meet the needs of different cultural groups. Many of
their 65 sites include staff from Spanish-speaking cultures that
can provide culturally sensitive services to Latino clients. Pacific
Clinics has also developed services that are sensitive to the needs
of the multiple Asian populations living in that part of California.
Services at the clinics include links to culture-specific family
and consumer groups, as well.
Pacific Clinics has a budget of over $52 million and a staff
of more than 800 professionals. Among its many services, Pacific Clinics provides training and education to a variety of audiences, including consumers, families, and professionals.

Project IMPACT facilitates the transfer of offenders with
mental illness from jails to community-based mental health services.
Description

Participants for Project IMPACT receive an individualized
service plan, along with linkages to alcohol and drug abuse services, social services, housing, and medication. Specialized probation officers are assigned to a small number of cases and they
coordinate the care of their clients. The program also provides a
county-wide education and training program, a liaison and training with law enforcement, a Community Resource Center for offenders with mental illness, and an informational video for families and friends of offenders with mental illness.
Contact Information

Project IMPACT
Orange County Probation Department
909 N. Main Street
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Phone: (714) 480-6778
Web site: www.oc.ca.gov/Probation

Contact Information

Pacific Clinics
800 S. Santa Anita Avenue
Arcadia, CA 91006
Phone: (626) 254-5000
909 S. Fair Oaks Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91105
Phone: (626) 795-8471
Email: CallCenter@pacificclinics.org
Web site: www.pacificclinics.org/

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 323

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

California

STATE:

California

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Pasadena Police Department

PERT, Inc

PROGRAM TITLE:

PROGRAM TITLE:

Mental Illness Law Enforcement System

Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT)

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

On-Scene Assessment and On-Scene Response

On-Scene Assessment and On-Scene Response

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2001

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1996

Overview

Overview

The Pasadena Police Department is involved in community
partnerships that improve law enforcement’s response to people
with mental illness.

The Psychiatric Emergency Response Team (PERT) program in San Diego County is a partnership among eight countywide law enforcement agencies, San Diego County Mental Health
Services, and PERT, Inc., a non-profit organization formed to
organize, supervise, and manage the operations of the program.
Each PERT consists of a specially-trained officer/deputy and a
licensed mental health clinician and responds to calls that may
involve mental illness throughout San Diego County.

Description

The Pasadena Police Department works closely with Genesis, a social service provider that deals with issues affecting the
elderly (specifically mental illness), to serve individuals with
mental illness better. Genesis staff provide training and are on
call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to respond to police situations
involving people with mental illness. Genesis offers this service
free of charge.
The Pasadena Police Department also participates in the
San Gabriel Valley Task Force, which addresses the law enforcement response to people with mental illness. The task force was
initiated by the mental health community and began in 1998.
The task force meets monthly and is comprised of mental health
care service providers and representatives of the Pasadena Police Department and the Monterey Police Department. The name
of the program is MILES (Mental Illness Law Enforcement System). This task force is also responsible for the annual MILES
conference during which speakers discuss various issues involving people with mental illness.
The director of Pacific Clinics, a local mental health care
agency, has also collaborated with the Training Division of the
Pasadena Police Department to develop a roll-call training program on mental illness–related issues for each of the patrol
teams.
Contact Information

Training Sergeant
Pasadena Police Department
207 N. Garfield Avenue
Pasadena, CA 91101
Phone: (626) 744-4573
Fax: (626) 744-3959
Web site: www.ci.pasadena.ca.us/police/

324 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Description

The San Diego County PERT teams comprise specially
trained officers or deputies who are paired with mental health
professionals; together, they respond on-scene to situations involving people with mental illness. The 24 PERT teams represent
a partnership between the Sheriff’s Office and the eight law enforcement departments in the county.
Participating officers, deputies, and mental health professionals are specially selected and complete an 80-hour block of
training. The training includes modules about on-scene assessment, payer systems, community-based organizations, and available hospitals. The goal of the program is appropriate placement for people with mental illness in the least restrictive
environment possible.
The PERT model is funded by both county and state grants
(which are actually pass-through federal SAMHSA funds). Partners determined that the most efficient way to manage these
funds was to form a separate organization, known as “PERT,
Inc.” The board for PERT, Inc. is made up in part of NAMI board
members and board members from the Community Research
Foundation, which is the largest private, nonprofit mental health
service provider in the county. PERT, Inc. supervises the PERT
staff and coordinates billing for services rendered (a funding
stream that provides considerable support for the program). The
executive director of PERT, Inc. developed training and is viewed
by the police and mental health professionals as a neutral liaison.
Important to the success of this program are the committees that meet to discuss the program and solve problems. The
first committee is the coordinating council, which meets quarterly to examine policies. The coordinating council is made up
of a captain or assistant chief from all nine departments and the

PERT, Inc
continued

STATE:

California

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

San Bernardino County
PROGRAM TITLE:

director of the county department of mental health. The second
group comprises supervisors from the divisions where PERT teams
are active, who meet to discuss logistics and operations. The
third group is an advisory board of 15 mental health stakeholders from around the county and two police coordinators. This
group meets to provide oversight of the program and to establish
accountability measures.
The Community Research Foundation has prepared a report on the operations of the PERT teams for the period from July
1, 1998, through June 30, 1999. This report details the incidents
the teams responded to, including client information, how long
the calls took, and what the outcome of each encounter was.

The San Bernardino Partners Aftercare Network (SPAN)
connects individuals with mental illness to appropriate mental
health services at the time of their release from jail.

Contact Information

Description

San Diego County Sheriff’s Department
Commander of Law Enforcement Services Bureau
P.O. Box 429000
San Diego, CA 92142
Phone: (858) 974-2319

San Bernardino Partners Aftercare Network
(SPAN)
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Development of Transition Plan
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1998

Overview

The San Bernardino Partners Aftercare Network (SPAN)
was one of many programs to receive funding from California’s
the Mentally Ill Offender Crime Reduction Grant Program
(MIOCRG). (See description of the MIOCRG above.)
SPAN is housed on the grounds of the San Bernardino
County’s West Valley Detention Center. The aftercare management team serves as a “bridge” between the offender’s release
from state custody and his or her reintegration in the community.
SPAN provides a number of services such as early discharge
planning so that the mental health needs of inmates’ can be
assessed early on. In addition, released inmates receive a 14day supply of medication at the time of their release to cover the
period until they can meet with a mental health service worker.
Identification cards are provided to inform law enforcement personnel and treatment providers that the person with mental illness is part of the program.
The coordination of terms and conditions of probation is
handled by a sub-program, STAR-LITE (Supervised Treatment
After Release—Less Intense Treatment Expectations). STARLITE provides extensive front end case management to inmates
who are at high risk of recidivism. This includes housing, financial support, and substance abuse counseling.
Contact Information

California Board of Corrections
600 Bercut Drive
Sacramento, CA 95814
Phone: (916) 445-5073
Fax: (916) 327-3317
Web site: www.bdcorr.ca.gov

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 325

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

California

STATE: California

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

San Diego County Public Defender’s Office

Village Integrated Service Agency, Long Beach

PROGRAM TITLE:

PROGRAM TITLE:

San Diego Homeless Court

Village Integrated Service Agency

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Adjudication

Integration of Services

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1999

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1987

Overview

Overview

The San Diego Homeless Court conducts court proceedings in homeless shelters to facilitate the fulfillment of court
orders and reduce subsequent contact with the criminal justice
system for program participants.

The Village Integrated Service Agency provides comprehensive mental health services to individuals in Los Angeles
County.

Description

The Village Integrated Service Agency in Long Beach, California, was initially developed through state legislation (1989)
that attempted to remove administrative and funding barriers
from the delivery of comprehensive, individualized mental health
services. The three basic elements of the Village’s program design are collaborative case management teams, case-rated funding, and a psychosocial rehabilitation/recovery philosophy. As in
the ACT model, services at the Village are delivered to the client
wherever he or she is. Teams of clinicians work with each client
and bring complementary skills to the process. Case-rated funding is an important principle because it is focuses on outcomes
rather than on delivery of units of service. The overarching recovery philosophy encourages staff and clients to seek the rewards that come with higher risks, knowing that support will be
available when needed. The Village offers a clear, single point of
responsibility for everyone it serves and provides coverage 24
hours a day, seven days a week.
In 1987 a group of concerned parents, consumers, business people, and professionals, prompted the lieutenant governor to help form a task force to make recommendations for creating a better mental health system. Two years later, after 14
statewide community hearings, the task force’s recommendations
were incorporated into a bipartisan legislative bill, which was
passed in 1989. The statute provided funding for three years,
directly out of the state general funds, for three Integrated Service Agency (ISA) demonstration projects in three different settings—countywide, urban, and rural. The mission of the Village
Integrated Service Agency is to support and teach adults with
psychiatric disabilities to recognize their strengths and power to
successfully live, socialize, and work in the community. In addition, the organization also seeks to stimulate and promote the
system-wide changes necessary so that these individuals may
achieve these goals.

Many homeless individuals are charged with crimes and
have outstanding warrants, usually for misdemeanors such as
illegal lodging. These individuals may be wary of attending court
proceedings or, due to their lack of a permanent address, do not
receive notices to appear. Most studies estimate that at least 2025 percent of the adult homeless population has a mental illness.
The San Diego Homeless Court is a program run by the
San Diego Public Defender’s Office that brings court proceedings
into shelters, where legal issues are disposed of through progressive pleabargaining and alternative sentencing measures. The
Homeless Court does not resolve felony cases. Prosecutors and
defense attorneys work together to hold court sessions once-amonth. The program works on a four-week schedule.
“
week one: participants sign up for a court proceeding
“
week two: the court and prosecution prepare
cases for the next scheduled hearing
“
week three: the defense attorney meets with the
participants to review and prepare for the cases
“
week four: the court personnel arrive at the shelter and hear the cases
Sentences often involve participation in programs at local
shelters or other community services instead of fines or jail-time.
Also, shelters can then provide drug counseling, job placement,
and access to additional public services (e.g. mental health care).
The Criminal Justice Research Division of The San Diego
Association of Governments (SANDAG) conducted a project evaluation of the San Diego Homeless Court. The evaluation is available by contacting SANDAG at (619) 595-5383.
Contact Information

San Diego Public Defender’s Office
233 A Street, Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: (619) 236-2523

326 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Description

Village Integrated Service Agency, Long Beach
continued

STATE:

Connecticut

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Department of Mental Health and Addiction
Services
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

The Village has struggled with the difficulty presented in
treating individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders. The division of funding sources for
these different problems makes facilitating treatment especially
difficult.

PROGRAM TITLE:

Jail Diversion Program
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1994

Contact Information

Village Integrated Service Agency
456 Elm Avenue
Long Beach, CA 90802
Phone: (562) 437-6717
Fax: (562) 437-5072
Email: mailbox@village-isa.org
Web site: www.village-isa.org/

Overview

The Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS) has instituted jail diversion programs in
all 22 geographical area courts across the state. These programs
work with the courts to link to treatment services people with
mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders arrested on minor offenses.
Description

In 1994 DMHAS developed in Hartford the first jail diversion program in the state for defendants with mental illness.
The program was the outcome of interagency discussion about
the frequent rearrest of people with serious mental illness. Prior
to this program, the courts were helping defendants with mental
illness to obtain mental health services by finding them incompetent to stand trial and admitting them to psychiatric hospitals.
This approach, geared towards enabling the defendants to become competent to stand trial, generally did not focus on their
long-term needs.
The goals of the diversion program include the following:
“
reduce recidivism of people with mental illness by
providing access to treatment
“
reduce incarceration of individuals with mental illness for minor offenses
“
free jail beds for violent offenders; provide judges
with additional sentencing options
“
increase the cost-effectiveness of the courts, Department of Corrections, and DMHAS
The jail diversion program allows the courts and community mental health centers to work together for the benefit of the
defendant. The clinicians who operate the diversion programs
work out of the local community mental health centers. When
those centers are run by DMHAS, the clinicians are DMHAS staff;
when the centers are not run by DMHAS, they receive funding
and supervision from DMHAS. All of the clinicians are licensed
practitioners (social workers, nurses, psychologists) who receive
training from DMHAS Division of Forensic Services. The diversion programs also offer training to the local police departments
to enhance police understanding of mental illness and the alternatives to arrest for certain individuals.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 327

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
continued

STATE:

Florida

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Broward County District Court
The diversion staff conduct assessments of individuals
who may be eligible for diversion, generally prior to arraignment.
The diversion staff then propose a treatment plan as an alternative to incarceration, and work with the court and the treatment
providers to ensure that the defendant complies with the diversion conditions. The only information that diversion staff provide to the court is a treatment plan and what options are available to the client. The nature of the illness and any diagnoses
are kept confidential. The diversion team does not make the
decision to divert; it simply offers options to the judges. If the
client agrees to allow the clinician to share more information
with the court it is easier to prepare a treatment plan that can be
followed up by the court.
If the court does offer diversion to the defendant, possible
outcomes include deferred prosecution with the condition of treatment, dismissal of charges, or probation with special condition
of treatment. When possible, diversion staff follow-up on program participants to assess their success in the program.
In 1997, Connecticut’s jail diversion program was selected
as part of the SAMHSA study of the impact of jail diversion.
Using initial data from that study, DMHAS prepared a report to
the Connecticut General Assembly Joint Committee on the Judiciary, Public Health, and Appropriations. DMHAS’s ability to
demonstrate that individuals who participated in the programs
spent significantly fewer days in jails and psychiatric hospitals
helped convince the General Assembly to appropriate funding for
an expansion of the program to all 22 geographical area courts in
the state. Beginning in 1998, researchers in Connecticut have
collected data comparing the experiences of two groups of defendants with mental illness—one group from courts with diversion programs and one group from courts without diversion programs.
The data collection period is complete and the study is
currently in the data analysis phase. The researchers will look to
compare the costs of serving the two groups, including costs
associated with criminal justice services and mental health services.
Contact Information

Jail Diversion Program
Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services
410 Capital Avenue
Hartford, CT 06134
Phone: (860) 418-6914
Web site: www.dmhas.state.ct.us/pdf/jaildiversion.pdf

328 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

PROGRAM TITLE:

Broward County Mental Health Court
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing;
Adjudication
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1997

Overview

The Broward County Mental Health Court seeks to link
defendants with mental illness to appropriate diagnostic and treatment services. Only defendants who have been charged with
misdemeanors are eligible for the court, excluding those charged
with domestic violence, driving under the influence, or battery,
unless the victim consents to the transfer of the defendant.
Description

Defendants can be referred for participation in the mental
health court in a variety of ways including by the magistrate who
presides at the bond hearing, the defense attorney, the defendant’s
family, the police, or a mental health caseworker, among others.
Defendants may either be in custody or out-of-custody (e.g.,
on pretrial release) when they are referred. For defendants who
are in custody, clinicians from Nova Southeastern University assigned to the public defender’s office screen defendants prior to
the initial probable cause/bail hearing. When defendants exhibit symptoms of mental illness, the defender informs the court
during the hearing, which is generally conducted via closed circuit television. Depending on the time of arrest, the magistrate
presiding at the bond hearing will refer the individual to the
mental health court either for the same day or the next day.
Individuals who are deemed to be in crisis or a danger to themselves are referred to a crisis center until they are stabilized, at
which point they may be eligible to again participate in the court.
Defendants who are referred to the court have a probable
cause hearing in the court to review the charges. Those individuals whom the judge determines are eligible for the court are
offered, after consulting with an attorney and mental health professionals, the opportunity to participate in treatment under the
supervision of the court. For those defendants who agree to this
arrangement, the state’s attorney holds their charges in abeyance, pending the progress of the treatment.
After being selected for participation in the program, defendants are further assessed and then assigned to a case manager. The case manager is responsible for preparing a service
plan, which is coordinated in conjunction with the defendant,
family members, a treatment provider, and the mental health
court. The court then holds a series of status hearings, as needed,

Broward County District Court
continued

STATE:

Florida

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Florida Bar
to monitor the progress of the defendant. Defendants report to
the court regularly, usually at two, three, or four-week intervals
(intervals increase after continued satisfactory progress).
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

One of the key problems that the mental health court faces
has been the lack of community placement options. Accordingly,
the court appealed to the legislature and received funding for a
three-year program to develop a residential treatment facility,
more intensive case management, and independent housing options
Contact Information

Broward County Mental Health Court
Broward County Courthouse
201 S.E. 6th Street, Rm. 905
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida 33301
Phone: (954) 831-7805

PROGRAM TITLE:

Florida Bar Continuing Legal Education
Requirements
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Training for Court Personnel
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2001

Overview

On February 8, 2001, the Florida Bar added mental illness
awareness as a mandatory category of continuing legal education requirements.
Description

Continuing Legal Education Requirement (CLER) was
adopted by the Supreme Court of Florida in 1988 and requires all
Florida Bar members to further their legal education. The Florida
Bar requires each member to complete 30 hours of CLE over a
three-year period. Five of those hours of education must be
obtained in one of four mandatory categories—ethics, professionalism, substance abuse, and mental illness awareness. Adding
mental illness awareness as a mandatory category demonstrates
the Florida Bar’s appreciation of the importance of attorney’s
gaining education in this area. The Board of Governors of the
Florida Bar voted 50 to 0 in support of mandatory CLE in mental
illness awareness.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

According to Angela Vickers, an attorney and mental health
advocate who was a leading proponent of the inclusion of mental
illness awareness as a mandatory category in the Florida CLER,
there is a shortage of educational opportunities for attorneys in
this area.
Contact Information

The Florida Bar
650 Apalachee Parkway
Tallahassee, FL 32399-2300
Phone: (850) 561-5600
Web site: www.flabar.org/

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 329

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

Florida

Seminole County Sheriff ’s Office
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Seminole County Sheriff’s Office
PROGRAM TITLE:

Crisis Intervention Team /
Medical Bracelet Program
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

On-Scene Assessment and On-Scene Response
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1999

Overview

A task force consisting of key stakeholders from the mental health care, substance abuse treatment, and criminal justice
systems helped the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office form a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) in 1999. The goal of the team is to
respond appropriately to people with mental illness who are the
subject of calls for service.
Description

The Sheriff’s Office funds all CIT training. When the program was first initiated, all CIT officers were required to complete a 40-hour block of training. The Crisis Intervention Team
assigns one trained officer to every shift. This deputy is expected
to respond to calls for service involving people with mental illness. If this officer is unavailable, any deputy can respond to the
call. However, it is expected that the responding deputy will speak
with the CIT officer to gain insight and develop a strategy to
effectively manage the call. In order to better prepare and respond to the needs of people with mental illness, CIT staff create and maintain a file of information about each individual with
whom they have contact, including the nature of the illness, family relations, the layout of the person’s home, the availability of
weapons, and any other relevant information. The Sheriff’s Office collects these data from the Forensic Diagnosis team at the
jail, the Crisis Intervention Team files, and the Medical Bracelet
Program.
The Sheriff’s Office also participates in the Seminole County
Mental Health and Substance Abuse Task Force. The task force
(which includes representatives from the State Attorney’s Office,
Public Defender’s Office, Seminole Community Mental Health
Center, NAMI, and the Coalition for the Homeless) meets monthly
to discuss issues related to each agency’s response and the collaborative initiatives developing among the agencies.
The Sheriff’s Office has contracted with the Mental Health
Association of Central Florida (MHACF) to set up the Medical
Bracelet Program. The MHACF is a nonprofit organization and
the project is funded entirely by the Sheriff’s Office. The program offers free voluntary registration to people with mental illness. They can get a bracelet or an identification card that alerts
law enforcement to a particular condition. Accordingly, if a citi-

330 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

zen with mental illness fails to comply with medication or encounters the police, the responding officer will be aware that the
person is in need of specific assistance. This information is
stored in the department’s communication center and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In 2000, the CIT responded to approximately 1200 calls for
service involving people with mental illness. Also, participation
in the task force has provided the Sheriff’s Office with feedback
on CIT program successes and barriers, and each participating
agency’s understanding of other agency’s roles was significantly
increased.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

Since the initial training, the sheriff’s office has recognized the need to locate alternate training opportunities. One
resource that the sheriff’s office has identified is the Florida
Regional Community Policing Institute at St. Petersburg, which
offers a class entitled “Managing Encounters with the Mentally
Ill.”
Contact Information

Seminole County Sheriff’s Office
100 Bush Blvd
Sanford, FL 32773
Phone: (407) 665-6986 or (407) 331-8231
Fax: (407) 665-6797
Web site: www.seminolesheriff.org/

STATE:

Florida

Pinellas County Sheriff ’s Office
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
PROGRAM TITLE:

Crisis Intervention Training Program
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Training for Law Enforcement Personnel
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2001

Overview

Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office personnel receive training
on using crisis intervention skills in interacting with people for
whom mental illness was a factor in the call for service.

might increase the number of people with mental illness who
can be helped by access to ongoing services.
Contact Information

Patrol Operations Administration
Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
10750 Ulmerton Rd.
Largo, FL 33778
Phone: (727) 582-6293
Fax: (727) 582-6769

Description

The Mental Health Commission of Pinellas County provides a 40-hour training program at no charge to the Sheriff’s
Office. The Mental Health Commission of Pinellas County comprises mental health providers, mental health advocates (e.g.,
NAMI), and law enforcement executives. Nonpolice personnel,
including people with mental illness and family members, teach
the training course. 150 employees of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s
Office have been trained, including civilian staff, corrections, and
law enforcement. Specifically, Pinellas County has made an effort to train its communications/dispatch staff.
The Pinellas County Crisis Intervention (CI) program is
based on the Memphis, Tennessee, Police Department’s Crisis
Intervention Team model, in which specially trained officers respond to calls involving people with mental illness. The county
has helped other Florida police departments implement their
own Crisis Intervention programs.
As a result of the crisis intervention training, dispatchers
are prepared to ask the necessary questions to provide deputies
on-scene with as much information as possible, and sworn staff
are better able to respond to calls involving people with mental
illness.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

The department hopes to increase the number of its CItrained officers. Unfortunately, there are not enough trained officers to have a CI officer respond to every call involving a person
with mental illness. Usually, only 10 to 12 people per shift have
received CI training. As a result, there are many instances in
which a CI officer is not available to respond to a call involving a
person with a mental illness.
The department would also like to hire social workers to
follow up with a person who has been admitted to a mental
health care facility. The social worker would speak with family
members and caseworkers or locate resources. This intervention

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 331

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

Georgia

Athens-Clarke County Police Department
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Athens-Clarke County Police Department
PROGRAM TITLE:

Crisis Intervention Program
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Training for Law Enforcement Personnel
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1997

Overview

The Athens-Clarke Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) trains
every officer in the Athens-Clarke police department to respond
effectively to calls for service involving people with mental illness.
Description

The Athens-Clarke Crisis Intervention Program (CIP) is
based on the Memphis CIT program, particularly with regard to
the training requirements. Unlike the Memphis model, however,
the county government in Athens-Clarke determined that special
teams alone could not provide an adequate law enforcement response to people with mental illness in Athens-Clarke County.
County government officials believed that every officer must be
able to respond effectively to a call for service involving a person
with mental illness.
All new recruits are required to attend post-academy training in mental health crisis intervention. Currently, about half of
the 210 sworn officers have been trained in this subject area.
Advantage Behavioral Health, a community-based health care
provider, conducts the training. Local mental health professionals donate their expertise, teaching the crisis intervention class.
As part of the course, officers visit a local hospital or mental
health facility to interact with and learn from consumers.
The training provides officers with a well-structured method
for handling on-scene response. When arriving on-scene, an
officer must first assess whether the consumer is a danger to
him/herself or others. Based on their crisis intervention training, the officer must then decide if the person is in need of
professional evaluation. During regular business hours, an officer may transport a consumer to the local mental health care
provider, Advantage Clinic, for evaluation. During off hours, or if
the person is considered violent, the officer may bring the individual to the emergency room where an Advantage staff person
will meet them.
As a result of the Crisis Intervention Program, the AthensClarke County Police Department has established close relationships with local advocacy groups, particularly NAMI and the Mental
Health Association. In April 2001, the captain who serves as the
informal liaison to the mental health care providers won the Mental
Health Association’s annual award for public services as a result
of his work with the CIP.

332 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Challenges/Areas for Improvement

The Athens-Clarke County Police Department plans to continue providing crisis intervention training to its officers until all
sworn personnel have received the training. Also, the department has encountered difficulties in finding appropriate care and
placement for youth who have mental illness, and would like to
develop specialized responses for this population.
Contact Information

Career Development Unit Administrator
Athens-Clarke County Police Department
3035 Lexington Road
Athens, GA 30605
Phone: (706) 613-3330 ext. 325
Fax: (706) 613-3348

STATE:

Georgia

STATE:

Hawaii

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Georgia Indigent Defense Council

Honolulu

PROGRAM TITLE:

PROGRAM TITLE:

Mental Health Advocacy Division

Honolulu Jail Diversion Project

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Appointment of Counsel

Pretrial Release/Detention Hearing

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1992

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1988

Overview

Overview

The Georgia Indigent Defense Counsel (GIDC) serves as an
information clearinghouse for defense attorneys throughout the
state, including information regarding the representation of persons with mental illness. The Mental Health Advocacy Division
of the council is responsible for providing aid to attorneys representing clients suffering from a mental illness.

Honolulu’s jail diversion program is a court-based program
that transfers misdemeanants with mental illness from the jail
into some form of treatment while they are awaiting trial.
Description

The GIDC was established in 1979 but was not funded by
the state until 1989. The Mental Health Advocacy Division was
created internally in 1992 and was legislated in 1996.
The mental health division provides assistance in one of
three specific areas. It can directly represent those who are
incarcerated indefinitely in state mental hospitals due to an insanity plea. The division also offers training seminars and manuals
for defense attorneys who represent clients with mental illness
and for the judges who sentence those defendants. Finally, the
division works as a consultation service for lawyers representing
clients who are confined to mental hospitals or whose mental
illness has a bearing on the disposition of their pending charges.

The post-booking program in Honolulu begins when detainees are transported from holding cells in the local precincts
to the courthouse in the early morning, where they are seen by a
case coordinator who determines before arraignment whether
diversion is appropriate. Participants in the program sign a voluntary release of information form for medical and mental health
records. A plan for services is arranged, and participants are
arraigned and released on their own recognizance. Clients are
then taken directly to treatment centers, and their progress is
monitored by a case coordinator. The case manager helps defendants gain whatever aid they need, even if it means picking them
up and driving them to their hearing. This program is designed
to ensure that less time is spent in jail during the pretrial phase,
regardless of the disposition of the case, and it also decreases
the rate of failures to appear.

Contact Information

Contact Information

Description

Mental Health Advocacy Division
Georgia Indigent Defense Council
985 Ponce de Leon Avenue
Atlanta, GA 30306
Phone: (404) 894-2595
Web site: www.gidc.com

Jail Diversion Project
Oahu Intake Service Center
2199 Kamehameha Center
Honolulu, HI 96819
Phone: (808) 586-4683

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 333

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

Illinois

STATE:

Illinois

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Cook County Department of Corrections,
Illinois Office of Mental Health

Cook County Adult Probation Department

PROGRAM TITLE:

Mental Health Unit

Cook County Jail Electronic Access to
Information
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2001

PROGRAM TITLE:
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Sentencing
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1988

Overview

The goal of the program is to notify mental health clinics
electronically when their members go to jail to immediately begin the process of aftercare planning.

The Mental Health Unit provides intensive supervision to
probationers with serious mental illnesses and/or developmental disabilities. The unit, which is Medicaid certified, is funded
by the Illinois Department of Mental Health and Developmental
Disabilities.

Description

Description

Through an automated information system, the Cook County
Jail electronically transfers its jail census on a daily basis to
mental health clinics in the Chicago area. Clinic staff review the
lists to determine whether they can identify any of their clients.
The goal is to notify these clinics when one of their clients is in
custody to aid in the continuation of treatment while in custody

To be eligible for supervision in the mental health unit,
probationers must have a diagnosis of mental illness and/or
mental retardation. Pedophiles and those who have been found
unfit to stand trial are not eligible for the program. Probationers
are mandated to receive mental health services ranging from
outpatient counseling to psychiatric hospitalization and nearly all
are on psychotropic medication. The most common diagnoses
are Axis I psychotic disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, severe mood
disorders, and bipolar disorder).
Staff in the unit have mental health–related experience
and training. Officers supervise reduced caseloads of approximately 50 probationers and work closely with treatment providers and a contracted clinical consultant to ensure comprehensive
case management. Officers perform a number of duties including: conducting clinical assessments; making referrals; completing detailed supervision plans; monitoring compliance with probation conditions, medication requirements, and other treatment
objectives; helping probationers to obtain disability benefits,
Supplemental Security Income, and medical cards; and serving
as advocates for probationers in their effort to obtain mental
health services.
Contact standards are dictated by the three phases. Each
phase lasts a minimum of three months. Prior to advancing to a
less restrictive phase, probationers must meet strict criteria. Probationers may be returned to a previous phase if compliance
problems arise. Upon successful completion of all three phases,
cases may be transferred to standard probation supervision if
the following criteria have been met:
“
all needs have been adequately addressed by appropriate referrals;
“
there have been no violations of probation or involuntary hospitalizations during any of the probation
sentence;

Overview

Contact Information

Cook County Department of Corrections
2700 South California Avenue
Chicago, IL 60608
Phone: (773) 869-7100
Email: corrections@cookcountysheriff.org
Web site: www.cookcountysheriff.org

334 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Cook County Adult Probation Department
continued

STATE:

Illinois

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers
“

“

there have been no inpatient treatment or hospitalizations in the past eight months; and
all special conditions ordered by the court have been
met

Contact Information

Adult Probation Department
Cook County Administration Building
69 West Washington Street, Suite 2000
Chicago, IL 60602
Phone: (312) 603-0240
Web site: www.cookcountycourt.org/services/programs/
adult-probation/probation.html#8

PROGRAM TITLE:

Thresholds Jail Program
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1997

Overview

The Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers Jail Program helps offenders with mental illness in the Cook County Jail
transition from jail to the community and provides them with a
broad array of support services to ensure their successful reintegration.
Description

Most Thresholds members (as the program’s clients are
called) have a history of state inpatient psychiatric hospitalization and incarceration—the average member has been hospitalized 112 times and arrested 35 times.
Thresholds relies on the Bridge Model of assertive community treatment, which uses an intensive team approach to provide long-term, comprehensive, and integrated services. The
Thresholds Program marks the first time that the Bridge Model
has been specifically applied to the jail population. Thresholds
staff forge relationships with clients while they are still in jail,
sometimes even securing early release into Thresholds custody.
Once released from the jail, the members are expected to adhere
to treatment regimens, to work with a psychiatrist, and to nominate Thresholds as a payee. Thresholds provides services for
substance abuse, vocational training, education, and peer supports. Thresholds has developed relationships with housing providers and the police department to ensure community support
and to enlist assistance in monitoring program members. Thresholds provides 24-hour services; if a member is missing, Thresholds staff will go into the streets to locate the member. Thresholds staff do not carry individual caseloads; instead, a
multidisciplinary team shares responsibility for each member,
with a psychiatrist overseeing the treatment program. Unlike
many programs that provide services for a limited time, Thresholds provides services as long as the member needs them.
Thresholds has compiled impressive outcome data concerning the success of its program. Thresholds has recently
completed a study comparing data for thirty program participants who have completed one-year of Thresholds service with
data from the one year prior to their involvement with the program. Prior to becoming involved in Thresholds these individuals had spent a combined 2,741 days in jail; during one year in
Thresholds they spent a total of 489 days in jail, a reduction of

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 335

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers
continued

STATE:

Iowa

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

82 percent. Similarly, in the year prior to being involved in Thresholds the group had been arrested a total of 101 times, while
during their year at Thresholds they were arrested 49 times for a
reduction of 51 percent. The group experienced a similar reduction in hospital days (85 percent) and total hospitalizations (82
percent). The Thresholds program costs approximately $26 per
day per member, whereas jails cost approximately $70 per day
and hospitals cost $500 per day. According to these per diem
rates, the Thresholds program saved $157,000 in jail costs and
$917,000 in hospitalization costs in the one year studied. In
addition, Thresholds received the American Psychiatric
Association’s prestigious Gold Achievement Award in 2001, that
organization’s highest honor.
Contact Information

Thresholds Psychiatric Rehabilitation Centers Jail Program
4101 North Ravenswood Avenue
Chicago, IL 60613
Phone: 1-888-99 REHAB
Email: thresholds@thresholds.org
Web site: www.thresholds.org

336 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Community Corrections Improvement
Association (of Iowa)
PROGRAM TITLE:

Commission on the Status of Mental Health of
Iowa’s Corrections Population
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Educating the Community and Building
Community Awareness
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2001

Overview

In November 2001, the Community Corrections Improvement Association (CCIA) and the Commission on the Status of
Mental Health of Iowa’s Corrections Population held eight public
hearings intended to bring the issue of mental health in prisons
to the attention of corrections professionals, mental health professionals, policymakers, and citizens.
Brief Description

The concept behind the public hearings was to impress
upon the public that mental health is a local concern. The forums sought to accomplish this by both educating those who
attended and gauging feelings about how Iowa is currently handling the issue of mental health. Part of the strategy included
attracting media attention in statewide newspapers.
The 240 participants in the hearings each completed a
questionnaire that was then analyzed by the State Public Policy
Group (SPPG). The survey sought to assess varying groups’
perceptions of how the state was addressing the mental health
issues within corrections treatment programs.
In the surveys, 80.8 percent of those polled said that access to mental health and substance abuse treatment services
was an urgent matter in the state of Iowa. Additionally, reports
concluded that there is poor communication between mental health
providers and corrections staff. When asked how to address this
issue, respondents showed strong support for a “no closed doors”
program, which would make it a uniform protocol in all parts of
the community. In this system, agencies from the police department to the department of human services immediately refer
people with mental illness to a mental health provider. The
commission will publicize the findings by developing a video
based upon clips from the public hearings and interviews with
incarcerated persons who suffer from mental illness. The follow
up is a conference in the spring of 2002 intended to draw attention to not just the problem but possible solutions, including
ideas that have worked in other states.

Community Corrections Improvement Association (of Iowa)
continued

STATE:

Kentucky

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Louisville-Jefferson County Crime Commission
Iowa is experiencing budget cuts and system restructuring.
The public hearings are an effort to hedge against this problem
by raising public awareness.
Contact Information

Community Corrections Improvement Association
200 10th St., 5th Floor
Des Moines, IA 50309
Phone: (515) 243-2000

PROGRAM TITLE:

Mental Health Diversion Program
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Prosecutorial Review of Charges
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1992

Overview

The Mental Health Diversion Program identifies nonviolent
felony and misdemeanor defendants with serious mental illness
and works with the court system to provide incentives for involvement with community-based treatment in lieu of incarceration. Following completion of the diversion program, charges
against the participant are dismissed.
Description

The Louisville-Jefferson County Crime Commission developed the Mental Health Diversion Review Board and is responsible for determining appropriate admissions to the diversion
program, approving individual treatment plans, and overseeing
the jail diversion program in general. The Review Board consists
of seven volunteer members including a psychiatrist, psychologist, registered nurse, clinical social worker, attorney, veteran
member of probation/parole or other law enforcement, and a
mental health advocate.
The jail diversion program employs, in addition to the review board, a court liaison, three Community Treatment Alternatives Program case managers, and mental health workers at the
jail to refer individuals for jail diversion and coordinate community treatment upon entry to the program. Treatment consists of
a six-month to one-year intensive portion, and two years, courtordered treatment for misdemeanor offenders and five years, courtordered treatment for felony offenders. During the intensive portion, participants attend weekly meetings with the community
mental health facility, group therapy (including dual diagnosis
group therapy, if appropriate), and a weekly legal issues group
meeting.
Upon admission to the program, the defendant’s court case
is suspended for a period of six months to a year. Following
successful completion of the intensive portion of the court order
and dismissal of charge, the participant is obligated to remain in
treatment under the terms of the original court order (two to five
years). The State of Kentucky Criminal Justice Council and the
Kentucky Commission on Services and Supports for Individuals
with Mental Illness, Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Disorders and
Dual Diagnosis, are also currently establishing a joint subcommittee to address cross-systems issues at the state level.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 337

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

Louisville-Jefferson County Crime Commission
continued

STATE:

Maryland

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Anne Arundel County Police Department
According to the executive director, the Mental Health Diversion Program has been successful in meeting its goals. In
addition to the treatment, support, and rehabilitation services
provided through the program, the program has helped reduce
total jail days for program participants and in the process saved
the county money.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

Although from time to time there is difficulty maintaining a
full review board, board members feel the program is reaching
individuals in need of diversion services and treatment. One
consistent problem, however, is a limited amount of money for
additional services needed to treat this population effectively.
Contact Information

Louisville-Jefferson County Crime Commission
231 S. Fifth Street, Suite 300
Louisville, KY 40202
Phone: (502) 574-5088

PROGRAM TITLE:

Mobile Crisis Team
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

On-Scene Assessment and On-Scene Response
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1999

Overview

The Anne Arundel County Mobile Crisis Team (MCT) comprises licensed mental health professionals—psychiatric social
workers—to provide on-scene response to 911 calls at the request of the first responding officer.
Description

Anne Arundel County uses a Mobile Crisis Team modeled
after a program implemented in Berkley, California. The program is funded through grants from the federal government. The
program was developed after representatives of law enforcement
and the mental health representatives met and determined that
the mental health professionals were better equipped than police
to respond to the needs of people with mental illness. As a
result, the county decided to expand funding for its crisis intervention teams. The specific plan was designed with the assistance
of a focus group of officers and mental health professionals.
When the MCT responds to a call, the social worker helps
the officer determine whether someone is a danger to themselves or others, assesses the need for intervention, and, if appropriate, assists the individual obtain access to mental health
services. The team also coordinates follow-up to consumer cases
and shares only essential, nonprivate information with the police
after the initial call for service. A lieutenant on the police department serves as a liaison to the head of the county mental
health agency.
The Mobile Crisis Team prompted the creation of a walk-in
clinic, which serves as the base for the MCT, maintains a
countywide bed registry, and provides counseling. An outreach
team was also formed to provide community intervention and
mental health services to people who are homeless.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

The MCT on-scene response is available until late at night
on the weekdays and weekends. Anne Arundel County would like
to expand this service to make it available 24 hours a day, 7days-a-week.
Contact Information

Commander of Management and Planning
Anne Arundel County Police Department
8495 Veterans Highway
Millersville, MD 21108
Phone: (410) 222-8651
Fax: (410) 222-8626
338 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

STATE:

Maryland

STATE:

Maryland

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. (BCRI)

Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

PROGRAM TITLE:

PROGRAM TITLE:

Mental health crisis beds

Mental Hygiene Administration, Core Services
Agencies (CSA’s)

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

On-Scene Response
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1992

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Access to Effective Mental Health Services
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2002

Overview

Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc. (BCRI) offers a variety of
services for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in
Baltimore City. These services include an information hotline, a
mobile crisis team, and residential crisis beds.
Description

BCRI is the result of collaboration among several local
mental health agencies in an effort to better serve individuals in
Baltimore City who are experiencing a mental health crisis. BCRI
accepts referrals from any source, including the police, mental
health agencies, members of the community, and professionals.
BCRI works closely with the Baltimore City Police Department,
providing a location to which police can refer individuals who do
not fit the criteria for involuntary commitment and have not committed a crime that warrants arrest.
BCRI also has a mobile crisis team that can respond to
situations in homes, shelters, or other community locations. When
police respond to a call that involves a person with mental illness who is in crisis, BCRI provides an important resource—a
location where the police can take the individual and be assured
that he or she will be safe, housed, and provided with links to
needed services. The ratio of BCRI mental health crisis bed
case managers to clients is approximately 1:4, ensuring that BCRI
staff will be able to provide needed attention to individuals in
crisis.
Contact Information

Baltimore Crisis Response, Inc.
1105 Light Street, Second Floor
Baltimore, MD 21230
Phone: (410) 752-2272

Overview

In Maryland, mental health and substance abuse services
are organized through local “core service agencies,” positioned
throughout the state. The core service agencies are responsible
for maintaining relationships with local community providers,
staying abreast of treatment needs, and communicating with the
state mental health administration regarding the status of mental health and substance abuse treatment in their respective communities.
Description

The Core Service Agencies (CSA’s) are the local mental
health authorities responsible for planning, managing, and monitoring public mental health services at the local level. CSA’s exist
under the authority of the secretary of the Department of Health
and Mental Hygiene and also are agents of the county government, which approve their organizational structure.
The functions of core service agencies are to plan, develop, and manage a full range of treatment and rehabilitation
services for persons with serious mental illness in their jurisdiction. Organizationally, the CSA can exist in a number of forms:
as a unit of county government (e.g., health department), as a
quasi-public authority, or as a private, nonprofit corporation. The
CSA is an agent of county government; accordingly, the county
determines the organizational structure of the CSA, which must
be governmental or not-for-profit in nature.
The CSA must be able to link with other human service
agencies to promote comprehensive services for individuals in
MHA’s priority population who have multiple human needs.
Contact Information

Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene
Mental Hygiene Administration
Spring Grove Hospital Center
55 Wade Avenue
Dix Building
Catonsville, MD 21228
Phone: (410) 402-8300
Fax: (410) 402-8301
Web site: www.dhmh.state.md.us/mha/

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 339

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

Maryland

STATE:

Maryland

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Montgomery County Department of Correction
and Rehabilitation

Montgomery County Department of Correction
and Rehabilitation

PROGRAM TITLE:

PROGRAM TITLE:

Information-sharing with mental health
providers

Suicide Screening Initiative

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility

Incarceration at County / Municipal Detention
Facility
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

2002

Overview

The county detention center in Montgomery County ensures that local mental health providers are notified when their
clients are incarcerated.
Description

The county detention center each day posts the names of
detainees who have entered the facility in the previous 24 hours,
makes this list available to local mental health providers. Providers recognizing names of current or past clients on the detention
center list may then, without breaching confidentiality, contact
mental health staff at the detention center with information, including diagnosis and medication, that might help the detention
center provide appropriate services or make decisions regarding
placement or diversion.
Contact Information

Montgomery County Department of Correction and
Rehabilitation
51 Monroe Street
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (240) 777-9975
Web site: www.co.mo.md.us/services/docr/

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

N/A

Overview

In Montgomery County, staff use the same set of seven
questions to screen inmates for suicide risk at three points of
intake: at central processing, upon institutional intake, and as
part of medical screening.
Description

The Suicide Screening Initiative is designed to maximize
the likelihood of identifying inmates who are at risk of committing suicide. When an inmate is first processed through the
Central Processing Unit, an officer completes the Suicide Screening
Form, consisting of seven items relating to current suicidal ideation and past history of suicidal/self-destructive behavior. There
are specific questions regarding mental health history and current psychiatric treatment (e.g., psychotropic intervention).
Inmates are then processed through intake, where the same
form is completed a second time. The process is intentionally
redundant and allows for the inmate to answer the same questions asked by different staff members. Third, inmates are
screened at medical intake where nursing staff use the same
Suicide Screening form. The document, initiated at Central Processing, follows the inmate throughout this process. If an inmate answers affirmatively to any of the questions at any point
along this three-part process, a referral is generated to mental
health services, at which point mental health staff conduct an
assessment to determine the suicide risk of the detainee.
Procedures for accountability are in place to ensure that
the form is completed correctly and that all inmates requiring an
assessment are seen by mental health staff. Inmates who have a
history of self-destructive behavior are put on a list and their
institutional and medical records are placed in a special file.
Facility staff monitor these inmates closely.
Contact Information

Montgomery County Department of Correction and
Rehabilitation
51 Monroe Street
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (240) 777-9975
Web site: www.co.mo.md.us/services/docr/

340 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

STATE:

Maryland

Montgomery County Police Department
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Montgomery County Police Department
PROGRAM TITLE:

Crisis Intervention Training
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Training for Law Enforcement Personnel
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

N/A

Overview

The Montgomery County Police Department provides a 40hour certification course for Crisis Intervention Team officers
regarding the proper response to individuals with mental illness.
The course is also available to deputy sheriffs, corrections officers, non-sworn law enforcement personnel, fire rescue personnel, and mental health professionals.

Contact Information

CIT Coordinator
Montgomery County Department of Police
Strategic Planning Division
2350 Research Blvd.
Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: (240) 773-5057
Fax: (240) 773-5007
Web site: www: www.co.mo.md.us/services/police/

Description

The Montgomery County Police Department covers a variety
of topics in its CIT training course, including (but not limited to):
“
Suicide prevention
“
Methods of approach
“
Interviewing techniques
“
Co-occurring disorders
“
Understanding and Assessing Mental Illness
“
De-escalation techniques
“
Psychotropic medications
“
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
The department uses a variety of training techniques in
the course, including cassette tapes that simulate the experience
of a person with mental illness who hears voices. Designed by
someone who suffered from a psychiatric disability, the cassette
tape series “Hearing Distressing Voices” simulates the experience of someone who hears voices. The program was developed
in association with the Massachusetts based National Empowerment Center (www. Power2u.org).
The curriculum calls for the participants to wear headphones that emit disturbing shuffling sounds, derogatory comments, and in some cases, racial slurs and profanity. The intent
is to help trainees to understand the difficulties that people who
hear voices experience. While listening to the tapes, participants
are asked to complete forms or answer questions—tasks that
inmates with mental illness must perform.
In addition, the department holds a portion of its training
program in the physical space of a public mental health facility
to familiarize officers with people with mental illnesses.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 341

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

Maryland

Mental Hygiene Administration, Division of Special Populations
continued

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Mental Hygiene Administration, Division of
Special Populations
PROGRAM TITLE:

Maryland Community Criminal Justice
Treatment Program
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Intake at County / Municipal Detention Facility
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1994

Overview

The Maryland Community Criminal Justice Treatment Program (MCCJTP) is a multiagency collaborative that provides shelter
and treatment services to offenders with mental illness in their
communities. Created to serve jail inmates with mental illness, the
program now also targets individuals on probation and parole.
Description

The MCCJTP now operates in 18 of Maryland’s 24 local
jurisdictions. The program is overseen by local advisory boards
comprised of state and local leaders and provides a wide range
of services, including case management, screening, counseling,
discharge planning, and community follow-up. The program also
provides training for criminal justice and treatment professionals, both within Maryland and from outside the state. Researchers identified four of the key components of the program:
“
strong collaboration between state and local providers;
“
transitional case management services;
“
long-term housing support; and
“
a focus on co-occurring disorders.
Program participants are identified through a classification process at the local detention center, or through parole/
probation. They are then referred to the local program director
for assessment and eligibility and assigned to a case manager. A
psychiatrist sees the patient to determine his or her mental illness or dual diagnosis needs, and to determine treatment possibilities. The case manager considers the client’s needs and develops a service plan approved by the client, and then contacts
relevant agencies, courts, families, etc. The plan is then presented to the court, and upon approval, the client is released and
followed by the case manager into the community.
It is the job of the case manager to assure coordination
with necessary providers. Case management services include crisis
intervention, screening, counseling, discharge planning, and community follow-up. The program also provides routine training for
criminal justice and treatment professionals. The MCCJTP is
especially attentive to the housing needs of its clients; case man-

342 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

agers help clients become eligible for the U.S. Department of
Housing and Urban Development Shelter Care Plus funds, which
are supplemented by local matching funds. Case managers work
with clients to find permanent housing options and to integrate
supportive services into the housing arrangement.
From October 1, 1994, to September 30, 1995, the program
served a total of 503 clients in eight jurisdictions. Of this number, 5 percent returned to state psychiatric hospitals, 20 percent
returned to detention centers, and 5 percent returned to
homelessness. Data from the first quarter of 1996 reflect a significant reduction in recidivism: the program served 241 clients,
of which 1 percent returned to psychiatric hospitals, 7.4 percent
returned to detention centers, and 2.4 percent returned to
homelessness. The MCCJTP is discussed in-depth in a National
Institute of Justice “Program Focus” piece entitled Coordinating
Community Services for Mentally Ill Offenders: Maryland’s Community Criminal Justice Treatment Program.
Contact Information

Division of Specific Populations
Mental Hygiene Administration
201 West Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: (410) 767-6603
Fax: (410) 333-5402

STATE:

Maryland

STATE:

Massachusetts

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Maryland Mental Hygiene Administration
Division of Special Populations; Calvert,
Dorchester, and Frederick Counties.

Committee for Public Counsel Services, Mental
Health Litigation Unit (MHLU)

PROGRAM TITLE:

Certification Training Program

The TAMAR Project
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Development of Treatment Plans, Assignment
to Programs, and Classification/Housing
Decisions
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1998

Overview

The TAMAR (Trauma, Addiction, Mental Health, and Recovery) project provides integrated, trauma-oriented services for
women with mental illness and co-occurring substance abuse
disorders in the correctional system.
Description

The TAMAR Project’s goal is to provide integrated services
for women held in local jails who have interrelated trauma, victimization, substance abuse, and mental illness issues. Meeting
in groups, the women are encouraged to share their stories with
one another and to engage in therapeutic activities such as art
therapy and journal writing. Upon release, women in TAMAR are
able to meet in continuing support groups.
A specialized Clinical Trauma Specialist works within the
county detention centers and the community to develop an integrated network of childhood trauma-informed mental health and
substance abuse treatment and social support services for program participants. In addition to establishing a new psycho-educational group intervention for women in the detention centers,
the Clinical Trauma Specialists and project staff on the assessment and management of childhood violent victimization and to
develop a ‘one-stop-shop’ model of service delivery for these
women when they are released into the community
The TAMAR project was developed with a grant from the
Substance Abuse Mental Health Services Administration
(SAMHSA). The program development phase of the project began in October 1998. The TAMAR Project is part of a broader
study being coordinated by the Center for Mental Health Services
and the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, both divisions
of SAMHSA.
Contact Information

Division of Specific Populations
Mental Hygiene Administration
201 West Preston Street
Baltimore, MD 21201
Phone: (410) 767-6603
Fax: (410) 333-5402

PROGRAM TITLE:
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Training for Court Personnel
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1991

Overview

The Mental Health Litigation Unit provides training for defense attorneys in Massachusetts who wish to be certified to
accept assignments in mental health proceedings (e.g., civil commitment, outpatient commitment, and “extraordinary treatment”
cases). The MHLU also provides training concerning the representation of defendants with mental illness in criminal cases.
Description

The primary mandate of the Mental Health Litigation Unit
(MHLU) of the Committee for Public Counsel Services is to “provide trial and appellate representation to indigent persons against
whom are filed petitions seeking (a) commitment to public or
private psychiatric facilities (b) judicial authorization to administer or terminate certain types of treatment (e.g., antipsychotic
medication, aversive behavior modification, life-support mechanisms) or (c) day-to-life commitment as a “sexually dangerous
person.” Typically, representation is provided by private attorneys certified by the MHLU to accept such assignments.”
Attorneys who wish to be certified to accept assignments
in mental health proceedings must apply for the program and, if
accepted, complete a two-part training. The training covers both
aspects of mental health law and diagnoses and treatment of
mental illnesses. Attorneys who are certified must attend at
least eight hours each fiscal year of approved continuing legal
education programs to maintain their certification.
The base text for MHLU training on mental health proceedings is Mental Health Proceedings in Massachusetts: A Manual
for Defense Counsel, by Stan Goldman, director of the MHLU.
The text covers in-depth various aspects of mental health law
including voluntary admission, involuntary admission, the commitment process, competency determination, and other topics.
The focus of this portion of the training is on litigation strategy
and technique. In addition, attorneys who wish to represent
defendants in mental health proceedings must attend trainings
on clinical aspects of mental illness and treatment. This training is provided by psychiatric professionals in conjunction with
legal professionals.

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 343

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

Committee for Public Counsel Services, Mental Health
Litigation Unit (MHLU)
continued

There are currently approximately 650 private attorneys in
Massachusetts certified to accept assignments in cases involving mental health issues.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

Due to budgetary constraints, the MHLU has had difficulty
monitoring attorney compliance with MHLU performance standards (available at: www.state.ma.us/cpcs/mhp/
MHPSTDS.htm#performance%20stds). At times, the MHLU has
been able to use student/interns to provide such monitoring,
after extensive training.
Contact Information

Committee for Public Counsel Services
Mental Health Litigation Unit
44 Bromfield Street, Boston, MA 02108
Phone: (617) 482-6212
Fax: (617) 988-8489
Web site: www.state.ma.us/cpcs/mhp/index.htm

STATE:

Massachusetts

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Department of Mental Health, Forensic
Division
PROGRAM TITLE:

Forensic Transition Team (FTT) Program
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Release Decision, Maintaining Contact between
Individual and Mental Health System
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1998

Overview

The Forensic Transition Team program provides comprehensive transition planning services to juvenile and adult offenders with mental illness incarcerated in state correctional institutions and county facilities that are eligible for parole. The FTT
also works with individuals in the pretrial stage, those who have
completed their sentence, and those who are released under public
safety supervision. An inmate’s diagnosis or criminal history
will not disqualify him or her from participating in the program.
Description

The Forensic Transition Teams (FTT) are the primary
mechanism through which the Department of Mental Health,
Department of Corrections, Department of Youth Services, and
parole and probation agencies seek to implement the goals established in a 1998 Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Signed in 1998, the MOU established a collaborative effort to
improve services to offenders with severe mental illness. As
part of the MOU,
The parole board agreed to:
“
Identify and refer inmates with mental illness who have
upcoming parole hearings and collaborate with DOC
and DMH in developing a discharge plan for the inmates.
DOC agreed to
“
Identify and refer inmates who are potentially eligible
for continuing care services, obtain releases allowing
for specified information to be shared between the
clinician, the Parole Board and the DMH.
“
Work with the DMH Forensic Transition Team (FTT)
Coordinator and/ or DMH case manager at the
inmate’s institution, and collaborate on development
of a service plan for potential parolees, especially by
facilitating the entry of the FTT Coordinator or DMH
Case Manager into an inmate’s facility.
And the DMH agreed to:
Assess individuals for potential continuing care eligibility who are referred by DOC clinical staff or DOC

“

344 Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

Department of Mental Health, Forensic Division
continued

STATE:

Massachusetts

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

“

“

mental health service provider, arrange for the provision of community mental health services, including
case management services, and, with the client’s
signed consent, communicate with assigned parole
officers on information regarding attendance and
progress in treatment.
Provide mental health evaluations and consultation
regarding potential continuing care parolees upon
referral by the Parole Board and to provide technical
support to clinical staff employed through the contract between DOC and their health service provider,
who are filing applications for continuing care and
facilitate communication between DMH/ vended
staff and DOC/ vended staff.
Maintain a database on the target population and
provide consistent feedback on effectiveness of release planning efforts for this population.

To be eligible for work with an FTT, inmates must fit certain clinical criteria (e.g., diagnosis, functional impairment, and
duration of illness), need DMH services, and be without other
means to access those services.
FTT staff meet with eligible inmates to determine the
offender’s needs upon release and the potential risks to public
safety. The FTT works with criminal justice officials as well as
local mental health and other service providers to determine
what services will be offered. After release, the FTT monitors
the client’s adjustment during a three-month transition period.
FTT supports client reentry by helping them maintain contact
with service providers and adhering to the conditions of their
release. Within three months of the offender’s release FTT staff
transition out of the case.
The Department of Mental Health has developed a database on offenders with mental illness to track the success of the
initiative. From April 1998 to September 2001, 63 percent of
releasees had remained engaged in mental health services at the
end of the three-month transition period. Only 4 percent had
been reincarcerated and the same percentage had required acute
hospitalization.
Contact Information

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
Forensic Division
Central Office
25 Stanford Street
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: (617) 626-8000
Web site: www.state.ma.us/dmh

Department of Mental Health, Department of
Corrections, and the Massachusetts Parole
Board
PROGRAM TITLE:

Cross Training
POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Training for Corrections Personnel
YEAR ESTABLISHED:

1998

Overview

As part of a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 1998
(see previous example), the Department of Mental Health (DMH)
has organized cross-trainings for parole board members and senior parole officers and administrators. The DMH trains the
members of the parole board on basic mental health issues. A
separate training for parole administrators focuses on improved
release planning for parolees with mental illness.
Description

The 1998 Memorandum of Understanding identified education and training as crucial to realizing the goal of improved
services to incarcerated individuals with mental illness. The
cross-training both covers basic mental health issues and helps
staff from all agencies to understand the new policies and procedures developed as part of the broad agreement. Specifically,
the Department of Mental Health educates the parole board and
parole administrators about the Forensic Transition Teams—a
collaborative program to identify inmates with severe and persistent mental illness, improve discharge planning, and ensure continuity of care for parolees.
Challenges/Areas for Improvement

The DMH hopes to extend its cross-training efforts to the
various regional parole offices. These trainings would bring representatives together from hospitals, community mental health
providers, and parole offices. The goal would be to improve the
cross-system knowledge among these groups and ultimately to
facilitate collaboration between the different agencies at the regional level.
Contact Information

Massachusetts Department of Mental Health
Forensic Division
Central Office
25 Staniford Street
Boston, MA 02114
Phone: (617 626-8000
Web site: www.state.ma.us/dmh

Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project 345

Appendix B. Program Examples Cited in Report

STATE:

Massachusetts

STATE:

Massachusetts

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

AGENCY/ORGANIZATION:

Harbor Inn Residential Facility (Boston)

Hampshire County Jail and House of Correction

PROGRAM TITLE:

PROGRAM TITLE:

Peer education

Case Management

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

POLICY STATEMENT(S):

Consumer and Family Member Involvement

Intake at County/Municipal Detention Facility

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

N/A

YEAR ESTABLISHED:

Mid 1970s

Overview

Overview

In Boston, peer educators visit Harbor Inn weekly, a residential facility on Long Island in Boston Harbor. The peer educators meet with residents who are in transition from hospitals to
community settings.

The Hampshire County Jail goes to unusual lengths to connect inmates released from the jail (including those