Criminal justice researchers to conduct nationwide evaluation of Veterans Treatment Courts

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform (PfCJR) Strategy:  RESEARCH PROMOTION

(Dec. 3, 2015) — Richard Hartley, an associate professor and chair with The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Department of Criminal Justice is to receive $186,157 from a $761K grant awarded to Missouri State University, under the direction of co-investigator Julie Baldwin.  The grant is awarded by the U.S. Department of Justice, National Institute of Justice (NIJ) to conduct the first multi-site evaluation of Veterans Treatment Courts.  Highlights:

  • Each year, thousands of veterans wind up in the criminal justice system for a variety of reasons. But Veterans Treatment Courts, or VTCs, are designed to help divert eligible military veteran offenders who may grapple with mental health issues, substance abuse or homelessness from the traditional criminal justice system into appropriate treatment services. These services can include counseling and therapy, rehabilitation, and housing.
  • Over the next three years, Hartley and Baldwin will evaluate outcomes from the VTC programs. These outcomes include the effects of VTCs on substance abuse and addiction, mental health and PTSD and whether, overall, there has been a reduction of criminal activity among the VTCs’ veteran population.

Read the entire article at

Click here to JOIN PfCJR as a physician or allied member as we advocate for criminal justice reform.


Untreated Mentally Ill 16 Times More Likely to Be Killed By Police, Study Says

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE: Decriminalization of Mental Illness and Addictive Disorders.

A recent report entitled Overlooked in the Undercounted: The Role of Mental Illness in Fatal Law Enforcement Encounters highlights the prevalence of fatal police encounters among individuals with mental illness, and makes recommendations for criminal justice reform. 

“By all accounts – official and unofficial – a minimum of 1 in 4 fatal police encounters ends the life of an individual with severe mental illness. At this rate, the risk of being killed during a police incident is 16 times greater for individuals with untreated mental illness than for other civilians approached or stopped by officers.”

Recommendations for systemic change include:

  • ACCURATELY COUNT AND REPORT the number of fatal police encounters.
  • ACCURATELY COUNT AND REPORT all incidents involving use of deadly force by law enforcement.
  • SYSTEMATICALLY IDENTIFY the role of mental illness in fatal police shootings.

If you would like to join Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform in supporting these recommendations, CLICK HERE.


Kids Who Face Criminal Charges Are More Likely To Die Young

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the Juvenile Justice System to Identify and Divert At-Risk Youth. 

Young offenders who are transferred to adult court are three times more likely to die early than someone of the same age in the general population, according to a longitudinal study published this month in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. “Any involvement with the criminal justice system increased the chance of mortality,” lead study author Matthew Aalsma, an associate professor of pediatrics at Indiana University, told The Huffington Post.

The more severe the punishment a youth offender faced, the greater the likelihood he would die early, Aalsma explained. Most of the time, he noted, the kids died by homicide.

The study compared electronic criminal justice records and health records of almost 50,000 10- to 18-year-old offenders in Marion County, Indiana, between 1999 and 2011, finding a direct link between involvement in the justice system and early death.

Read the full article by clicking HERE.


Study finds gender disparities for inmates with HIV

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Provision of adequate access to physical and psychiatric health care for current inmates. In the largest study of inmates with HIV receiving antiretroviral therapy, Yale researchers uncovered significant differences in HIV treatment outcomes for men and women in the justice system. Their findings point to the need for gender-specific HIV prevention strategies for incarcerated individuals.  Click HERE to read the full article. Study available at: “Sex-Related Disparities in Criminal Justice and HIV Treatment Outcomes: A Retrospective Cohort Study of HIV-Infected Inmates.” American Journal of Public Health. e-View Ahead of Print.

President Obama on Criminal Justice Reform

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders. 


President Obama is on board for real, lasting criminal justice reform.   You can see the entire speech, given to the NAACP, at this link.

Will you JOIN us?

Juvenile incarceration yields less schooling, more crime

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth.

A new article on the study is published in the latest issue of the Quarterly Journal of Economics. The co-authors are Doyle and Anna Aizer, an associate professor of economics and public policy at Brown University.

The study looks at cases involving 35,000 juvenile offenders over a 10-year period in Chicago. The Chapin Hall Center for Children at the University of Chicago created a database on social programs in the state of Illinois that made the research possible.

Indeed, the research project, which studied the long-term outcomes of tens of thousands of teenagers in Illinois, shows that, other things being equal, juvenile incarceration lowers high-school graduation rates by 13 percentage points and increases adult incarceration by 23 percentage points.

Read more at:

Treatment Research Institute Announces Increased Adoption of Court Risk and Needs Triage Tool

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders.

Research findings demonstrate that outcomes in community correctional settings are influenced by how well drug and DUI-involved offenders are matched to community based treatment services and criminal justice supervision based on their levels of risks and needs. By classifying offenders into one of four risk/needs quadrants, the tool provides research-based recommendations for the most effective and efficient level of criminal justice supervision and behavioral health care. Courts in more than 30 states have adopted this tool. – See more at:


In England and Wales, police detaining fewer people displaying mental illness

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders.

People displaying mental health problems in public were held in police cells on more than 4,500 occasions in the last year, a fall of almost a third compared with the previous year, figures show.

Police custody was used to accommodate individuals held under section 136 of the Mental Health Act 4,537 times in 2014/15, down from 6,667 times, according to data collected from police forces in England and Wales.

Last month the home secretary, Theresa May, announced a crackdown on the practice, telling police officers at their annual conference in Bournemouth: “Nobody wins when the police are sent to look after people suffering from mental health problems. Vulnerable people don’t get the care they need and deserve, and the police can’t get on with the job they are trained to do.”

Section 136 allows police to take people to a place of safety when they are in a public place. They can do this if they think the person has a mental illness and is in need of care.

The number of times people aged under 18 were taken to police custody under section 136 fell from 256 to 161, a 37% reduction, and the total use of the rule by police fell 11.5% to 23,128.

The declines follow a government announcement that it would legislate to prohibit the use of police cells as “places of safety” for those under 18 and reduce the current 72-hour maximum detention period for adults.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Study on Cook County Juvenile Court recommends shift in priorities

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Reform of juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth.


According to a report prepared for the government by the Illinois Department of Juvenile Justice, almost 9 out of 10 youth who spend time in Illinois youth prisons end up going back to prison within three years of their release, with Cook County as the highest percentage out of ten counties (Smith 2014). This current study was conducted to increase understanding of the perceived strengths and weaknesses in the juvenile justice system. The more we know about the outcomes of detention and court involvement on youth and their overall neurological and social development, the better we can move forward. Further, our understanding that the majority of court involved youth have experienced complex trauma and have unmet basic needs is important as we consider the best options for rehabilitation and their overall success. This research allows us to increase our understanding further by tapping into the knowledge of juvenile justice stakeholders in order to identify best practices and opportunities that promote positive transformation for youth, families, and communities. This report documents the responses and identifies existing attributes, best practices and challenges in the Cook County Juvenile Court and in the community. The data lead to a wide range of recommendations for change that will increase the success of youth in Cook County, from those that can be implemented in the court and in the community, to recommendations that will result in a paradigm shift in the system and in the ways that we think about youth and juvenile justice. The findings point toward an increase in education and coordination system-wide, with the court taking on a greater role in promoting prevention strategies aimed at keeping youth from entering the system in the first place. Most significantly, the findings point toward the need to keep youth in their communities with a strong emphasis on the system utilizing, building and cooperating with communities to both stem the flow of youth into the system, and for the young people who are in the system, to create a solid strategy to reintegrate youth successfully back into their communities.

CLICK HERE to read the entire study.


Medication for Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder and Criminality

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  PfCJR advocates for reform of the juvenile justice system to identify and divert at-risk youth.  Will you JOIN us?


About 5% of all children in the Western world fulfill diagnostic criteria for attention deficit–hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),1 and a large proportion of such children are treated pharmacologically.2 ADHD has been associated with criminality3,4 and externalizing disorders.5Beneficial short-term effects of ADHD medication on symptoms of ADHD and associated conduct problems have been shown in numerous randomized, controlled studies involving children6-8 and adults.9-11 ADHD symptoms are largely persistent from childhood into adulthood,12 but one prominent feature of ADHD treatment is that the discontinuation of medication is common,13,14especially in adolescence and early adulthood.15 The importance of treatment discontinuation for criminality and other longer-term outcomes is largely unknown.

The Multimodal Treatment of Attention Deficit–Hyperactivity Disorder (MTA) study is the largest randomized clinical trial of ADHD medication with long-term follow-up.16-19 The most sensitive measures of treatment (a composite of ADHD symptoms, as rated by parents and teachers) suggested that the benefit of medication at the 14-month assessment had diminished at 36 months.20 No association was observed with early delinquency and substance use at 36 months.19Although the study did not suggest long-term effects of medication, high rates of treatment discontinuation, a lack of placebo-treated controls, and a limited range of outcomes mean that the longer-term effects of ADHD medication remain uncertain. In this study, we used Swedish population-based data to investigate the association between the use of ADHD medication and criminality.  Click here to read the full study:

CLICK HERE TO JOIN Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform.