Tuesday, July 31, 2007

News from the Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project

From the July 2007 Consensus Project Newsletter:

"Nearly 30 state mental health directors gathered in Denver, Colorado earlier this month to participate in a special day-long session on criminal justice and mental health issues.
The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), together with the Council of State Governments Justice Center, convened the meeting one day before the start of NASMHPD's summer meeting.

This meeting marked the first time NASMHPD has ever convened the state mental health directors for a session focused exclusively on criminal justice issues. The day-long session was the result of a series of meetings among a small group of state mental health directors interested in developing a blueprint for their counterparts across the country, which would chart a course for the successful reinvestment of state dollars in community-based behavioral health care services for people involved in the criminal justice system.

Participants discussed concentrating limited dollars on a "target population" of people with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system, ensuring services funded with reinvested dollars are most likely to have a positive impact on the target population, and developing outcome measures that policymakers could use to track the results of the reinvestment.

Incoming NASMHPD President, Carlos Brandenburg, administrator of the Division of Mental Health & Developmental Services within the Nevada Department of Human Resources, announced during the NASMHPD meeting that he would establish a "President's Task Force" that, together with the Justice Center, will work to develop this blueprint.

Another topic covered during the session was the role of mental health systems vis a vis crime victims. Presenters reviewed barriers that victims often encounter when seeking information about offenders ordered to receive treatment from the state mental health system, as well as steps that can be taken to address barriers. For more information on a project the Justice Center is coordinating with support from the
Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) to improve responses to these victims, click here.

Various state legislators who have led justice reinvestment initiatives in their states participated in the session, including Rep. Jerry Madden (R-TX), Rep. Michael Lawlor (D-CT) and Rep. Pat Colloton (R-KS). For more information about the justice reinvestment initiatives these lawmakers have led in their states,
click here."

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