Local leaders in many communities around the country are working to keep people with mental illnesses out jails and prisons. While state and federal policies can support these efforts, most lasting change happens at the local level. Strong partnerships are the key to success. NAMI State Organizations and Affiliates are key partners and work closely with police chiefs, sheriffs, judges and other criminal justice leaders as well as with mental health system leaders.
- Mental health courts, juvenile mental health courts, veterans treatment courts and drug courts are specialized court dockets which provide service coordination, support and supervision to individuals who have been charged with a crime related to their mental illness or substance use condition. Typically, individuals plead guilty, are released from jail and must follow a treatment plan for 12-18 months with regular supervision by the court. If the treatment plan is successful, the charges are dropped. Find mental health courts in your community and learn more about starting a mental health court.
- NAMI Northern Virginia worked with the local mental health agency to provide funding for a full time biligual therapist to work in the juvenile court system connecting youth and their families with mental health services.
- NAMI Utah's advocates work with several mental health courts, including have a NAMI representative during the court staffing, and providing support and education to court participants.
- NAMI Marion (Fla.) works with a local mental health court to provide education and support programs to court participants.
- Shelby County, Tenn.'s Jericho Project is a post-booking jail diversion program that provides short term intensive case management to people who have cycled repeatedly through jail and prison.
- Florida Partners in Crisis (FLPIC), an organization that brings together criminal justice leaders, mental health and substance abuse service providers and advocates, is working with judges to provide judicial education on mental illness.
- Cost Benefit Knowledge Bank for Criminal Justice (CBKB) is a site to help communities make sound financial decisions about criminal justice interventions.