For Police, A Playbook for Conflicts Involving Mental Illness

PfCJR CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders. 

As reported by the New York Times online.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The 911 caller had reported a man with a samurai sword, lunging at people on the waterfront.

It was evening, and when the police arrived, they saw the man pacing the beach and called to him. He responded by throwing a rock at the embankment where they stood.

They shouted to him from a sheriff’s boat; he threw another rock. They told him to drop the sword; he said he would kill them. He started to leave the beach, and after warning him, they shot him in the leg with a beanbag gun. He turned back, still carrying the four-foot blade.

In another city — or in Portland itself not that long ago — the next step would almost certainly have been a direct confrontation and, had the man not put down the weapon, the use of lethal force.

But the Portland Police Bureau, prodded in part by the 2012 findings of a Justice Department investigation, has spent years putting in place an intensive training program and protocols for how officers deal with people with mental illness.

Read the entire article.

Click here to JOIN PfCJR as we advocate for criminal justice reform.

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 UTSA.edu

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

 

House committee approves plan to keep mentally ill out of Florida jails

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

TALLAHASSEE | A measure that would put mentally ill people charged with crimes in medical treatment instead of correctional facilities is making its way through the legislative process.  Highlights:

  • Rep. Charles McBurney, R-Jacksonville, is the sponsor of House Bill 439. He said the goal is to help Florida prisons and jails shake their status as the state’s largest mental-health treatment facilities.
  • Among other things, the proposal:■ Allows county judges to direct people accused of misdemeanors to treatment instead of jail;

    ■ Changes the definition of the term veteran to make more people eligible for veteran courts that provide alternative resolutions to jail for veterans charged with crimes;

    ■ Allows every county to create a mental-health court that provides treatment for mentally ill people accused of crimes instead of sending them to jail; and

    ■ Creates a pilot program in Duval, Broward and Miami-Dade counties that provides treatment options for people deemed mentally incompetent to stand trial for felony offenses instead of sending them to state mental-health hospitals.

Read the entire article at www.jacksonville.com

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

County programs provide way out for those with mental health issues

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

The Lyon County Forensic Assessment Safety Triage Team and Mobile Outreach Safety Team were established in August 2015 to address the significant number of individuals in the criminal justice system with a mental health diagnosis, substance use disorder or, in many cases, both.  Highlights:

  • These teams represent community collaboration between state and local government and nonprofit agencies to address the behavioral health needs of people involved in, or at risk of involvement in, the criminal justice system by providing an array of community-based diversion services designed to keep people with behavioral health issues out of the criminal justice system while also addressing issues of public safety.
  • New Sheriff McNeil described the programs as restorative justice rather than jail diversion, but said they help reduce repeat offenders by giving them the help they need to prevent them from becoming involved with law enforcement.
  • McNeil said the programs save the county money in the long run, by reducing the costs of institutionalizing the mentally ill.

Read the entire article at RGJ.com

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

County looks to reduce number of inmates with mental illness

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

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)– Within the past year, the Eau Claire County jail has seen a drastic rise in inmates brought in with a mental illness.  Mark Ruddy, chair for the Criminal Justice Reform Team says too many people with a mental illness are being taken to prison.  Highlights:

  • “It is a problem and it is an increasing problem. Our local issues are just a reflection of our national issues. Our jails are the largest mental health institution in the country,” says Ruddy.
  • Ruddy believes those inmates should be taken to a hospital or specific treatment crisis center.
  • The Eau Claire County Judiciary and Law Enforcement Committee is working on a way to change the way someone with mental issues is put into the jail system. “We need to find a way in our society to keep mentally ill people from being in prison. They can’t get appropriate treatment there,” says Ruddy.

Read the entire article at WEAU.com

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

When the Hospital Fires the Bullet

PfCJR CORE ISSUE: Decriminalization of mental health and addictive disorders

The New York Times is bringing needed attention to the story of Alan Pean, violence in hospitals, and police brutality in interactions with the mentally ill. This incident is not new to us at Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform, as we reported on Alan in our blog six months ago. He was shot, in the chest, by security officers while voluntarily admitted for psychiatric care. Luckily, he has survived to tell his story and fight against the unbelievable charges levied on him by prosecutors with the help of his loving family that includes a physician and two aspiring physicians. We commend the New York Times for bringing attention to this critical issue, one which all physicians should be able to get behind.

#MedicineNotBullets

For more, please read the article on the New York Times website:

Mentally Ill Lives Matter

PfCJR CORE ISSUE:  Decriminalization of Mental Health and Addictive Disorders.

The Huffington Post published an opinion piece by DJ Jaffe entitled “Mentally Ill Lives Matter.”  Among the interesting points made:

  • At least half the people shot and killed by police each year are believed to have mental health problems.
  • Criminal justice leaders propose greater use of Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT), called “Laura’s Law” in California and “Kendra’s Law” in New York.
  • The just-passed federal budget includes $15 million for states to expand AOT programs.

Click HERE to read the entire article.

Interested in supporting long-lasting, meaningful criminal justice reform?  Click here to JOIN US.

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:

  • TREAT THE UNTREATED.
  • 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.

 

Grant provides Vivitrol for county jail inmates

Physicians for Criminal Justice Reform CORE ISSUE:  Provision of adequate physical and mental healthcare to inmates.

MANSFIELD – More Richland County Jail inmates will have access to medication-assisted treatment for opiate addictions as a result of a new grant from the state.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services this week announced $3 million in grant awards to support 23 projects benefiting 38 counties in an effort to connect offenders with treatment. The goal is to reduce the number of criminal offenders with untreated mental illness and substance use disorders who continually cycle through county jails.

Richland County Mental Health and Recovery Services executive director Joe Trolian said the $148,000 Criminal Justice-Behavioral Health Linkages grant will not only help continue and enhance existing services like counseling and case management for current and former inmates but also add Vivitrol treatment to the lineup of services.

The agency has offered Vivitrol to only a limited number of people since 2014 because funding for the medication and the protocols and treatments associated with it were not available.

Statistics show people who attempt to overcome opiate addictions by quitting cold turkey have a much lower success rate than those who use medication assisted treatment, Trolian said.

 

CLICK HERE to read the full article.

Police Leaders Join Call to Cut Prison Rosters

More than 130 police chiefs, prosecutors and sheriffs — including some of the most prominent law enforcement officials in the country — are adding their clout to the movement to reduce the nation’s incarceration rate.

Asserting that “too many people are behind bars that don’t belong there,” the officials plan to announce on Wednesday that they have formed a group to push for alternatives to arrests, reducing the number of criminal laws and ending mandatory minimum prison sentences. Members of the group are scheduled to meet Thursday with President Obama.

The group includes the police chiefs of the nation’s largest cities, including William J. Bratton of New York, Charlie Beck of Los Angeles and Garry F. McCarthy of Chicago, as well as prosecutors from around the country, including Cyrus R. Vance Jr., the Manhattan district attorney.

Read the entire New York Times article by clicking HERE.