CIT in Action - Vol. 3 Issue 1
1. Feature Story: The Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act: A Good Federal Investment
Contributor: Ron Honberg
When it was enacted in 2004, the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) represented an unprecedented step forward in establishing a federal strategy to prevent the unnecessary incarceration of people with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders. The beauty of this new program was that it allowed federal funding for a variety of state or community based initiatives, including jail diversion programs, enhanced correctional treatment, discharge planning and community reentry services, and cross-training of criminal justice and mental health professionals.
In fiscal years 2006 and 2007, Congress appropriated $5 million to the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) to award "Justice and Mental Health Collaboration" grants through MIOTCRA. Although an important and positive step forward, this level of funding was not nearly enough to meet the demand for this program. For example, in 2006, 250 applications were received by BJA, but only 28 communities, or 11% of applicants, received actual funding to implement collaborative efforts between criminal justice and mental health systems.
In fiscal year 2008, Congress increased funding for MIOTCRA to $6.5 million. In a difficult funding climate, the increase demonstrates the strong bipartisan support that this program currently enjoys in Congress.
Types of Services Funded:
Three types of Justice and Mental Health Collaboration grants are available through MIOTCRA. Planning grants are available for states and communities that are in the early stages of collaborative planning. States and communities that are further along in planning may apply for joint planning and implementation grants. Finally, implementation and expansion grants are available for states and communities that are ready to move from planning to the adoption of specific programs and services. The grant program promotes collaborative efforts by requiring that state and local governments apply for grants jointly with a mental health agency.
The following examples from fiscal year 2007 illustrate the wide range of services that may be funded under this flexible federal program.
Montgomery, Alabama was awarded a planning grant to develop a strategic plan for a comprehensive system to address the needs of youth with mental illnesses in the juvenile justice system;
- Cook County (Chicago), Illinois was awarded an implementation and expansion grant to expand and improve services for court-involved individuals with serious mental illness and substance use disorders through the Cook County Mental Health Court;
- Cobb County, Georgia received a Planning and Implementation grant to implement a “Learn to Earn Post-Release Project”, an initiative providing treatment and employment services to youth and adults with mental illnesses reentering communities after incarceration;
- The State of Maine received a Planning and Implementation grant to strengthen collaborations between local criminal justice and mental health systems on jail diversion and reentry services for justice involved individuals with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders.
The law authorizing funding through MIOTCRA is not scheduled to expire until 2009. However, late in 2007, bills to reauthorize and strengthen MIOTCRA were introduced in both the House and Senate. Although the House and Senate bills are somewhat different, both would increase overall funding levels for MIOTCRA. Additionally, both include a new Law Enforcement grant program to fund initiatives such as CIT and other collaborative initiatives between law enforcement and mental health agencies. Finally, both bills would also re-authorize federal funding for Mental Health Courts. NAMI is working to promote this legislation, and we will keep you updated when Congress takes action.
The text of the Senate and House bills to reauthorize MIOTCRA, S. 2304 and HR 3992, can be accessed at the Library of Congress by entering the bill numbers. For more information about MIOTCRA and Justice and Mental Health Collaboration grants, including a list of FY 2006 and 2007 grantees, see the Criminal Justice Mental Health Consensus Project website.
2. Advocacy Spotlight: CIT Fact Sheet
We are pleased to announce the availability of a new fact sheet designed for CIT advocates. Whether you’re talking to the media, trying to recruit partners in your community, or working with state and local officials, you need the facts on hand to make your case. As the latest addition to our CIT Toolkit, NAMI is releasing "CIT Facts." This fact sheet features an explanation of CIT’s history and its key components. The fact sheet also includes data on the effectiveness of CIT in helping people with mental illnesses get treatment, and reducing officer injuries, SWAT team emergencies, and wasted time in the disposition of "mental disturbance" calls.
Use these facts, in combination with our CIT Talking Points, to prepare for a conversation with the media. Or, use the fact sheet as a leave-behind with legislators. Finally, CIT Facts can be used to inform other advocates, law enforcement agencies and mental health providers about the benefits that CIT can bring to your community.
3. News from the States
National GAINS Center To Host Conference "Creating More Effective Services”
The National GAINS Center will host its annual conference, entitled "Creating More Effective Services," March 18-20 in Washington, DC. The opening plenary speaker will be A. Kathryn Power, MEd, Director of the Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA). Registration is free and may be completed online. To learn more, visit the GAINS Center website.
New York Radio Features CIT
In the wake of the tragic death of Khiel Coppin, a young man with a mental illness who was shot by the New York City police, New York Public Radio highlights CIT as a strategy for preventing similar tragedies. The story features Major Sam Cochran of the Memphis Police Department, Philip Kirschner of NAMI New York State and other CIT advocates. To listen to the story, visit the WNYC website.
NAMI Monthly Conference Call Features Major Sam Cochran
In November, NAMI’s monthly "Ask the Doctor" conference call, hosted by Medical Director Dr. Ken Duckworth, featured Memphis’ Major Sam Cochran. Dozens of participants called in, and many contributed to a lively question and answer period. To learn more, read the notes from the conference call. Unfortunately, due to privacy and liability concerns, we do not record or transcribe these calls.
"Cops Learn Not to Kill or Jail the Mentally Ill"
Ann Woolner of Bloomberg.com reports on the story of Bryan Long, an Alabama resident who was shot to death by police during a psychotic episode. The article quotes Major Sam Cochran and NAMI Director of Policy and Legal Affairs Ron Honberg discussing the benefits of CIT. To read the article, visit Bloomberg.com.
4. We Need Your Help!
CIT in Action is in a period of transition. Please let us know what you think of our newsletter and send us any suggestions for improving it. Also, continue to send us your ideas and stories for upcoming issues. Does your community have an innovative program? Did you hear about CIT in the news? Do you know about a new research study on jail diversion? Let us know your thoughts and ideas by emailing the editor of CIT in Action, Laura Usher, at email@example.com
This newsletter is distributed via NAMI’s forensic list-serv, which includes periodic announcements and information about jail diversion, CIT and other forensic issues. If you wish to subscribe, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.