News and Announcements:
2008 CIT National Conference
The Georgia Crisis Intervention Team and NAMI Georgia will be hosting this year’s CIT National Conference, in Atlanta from November 4-6. The conference, entitled “Georgia on Your Mind, CIT in Your Heart,” will gather law enforcement officers, mental health professionals, and NAMI advocates from around the country to highlight the successes of CIT and to learn from each other. To learn more about the conference, including how to register, donate as a sponsor, or exhibit, visit the NAMI Georgia website. Please note: November 4th is Election Day; if you plan on attending the conference, remember to cast your absentee ballot!
New York Passes Law To Enhance Treatment of Inmates with Serious Mental Illness
On January 29, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer signed into law a bill that will improve the conditions for prisoners with serious mental illness who are placed in “segregated housing units” or solitary confinement. All prisoners with serious mental illness will receive a psychiatric evaluation when they enter solitary confinement, and except under exceptional circumstances, will be removed to a less restrictive setting. Prisoners with serious mental illness who remain in solitary confinement will receive periodic screenings and enhanced programming or therapy. Prisoners who do not have a history of serious mental illness will receive less frequent mental health evaluations. The bill also prohibits, except in exceptional circumstances, feeding prisoners with serious mental illness in solitary confinement a restricted diet as a form of punishment. Finally, the bill authorizes the state Commission on Quality of Care and Advocacy for Persons with Disabilities to inspect and monitor prisons with inmates who have serious mental illnesses. To learn more, read a copy of the bill, or see Governor Spitzer’s press release.
Study Shows CIT Officers Resolve Dangerous Situations Safely, Without Use of Force
A study published in the February issue of the journal Psychiatric Services found that CIT officers responding to calls involving a person with a mental illness, in situations with a high potential for violence to self or others, rarely used force, and almost always resolved the situation without injury. The study analyzed police records from incidents involving Las Vegas CIT officers. Although most calls involved some potential for violence – evidenced by threats of suicide, substance abuse, medication non-compliance, and other markers – officers only used force in 6% of incidents. Extreme use of force, including use of use of handcuffs, pepper spray, tasers or other less lethal weapons, was even rarer, and correlated to serious and extreme threats of violence. Finally, the study reported that CIT officers resolved most situations through hospitalization, and were less likely than other officers to arrest a person with mental illness. To learn more, visit the Psychiatric Services website, where you can view an abstract. You can also purchase the article for a fee. If you have any questions, contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org.