Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $467,696)
The Durham County Criminal Justice Resource Center (the lead applicant and mental health partner) is collaborating with the Durham County District Attorney’s office (the partner applicant and criminal justice partner) to enhance the capacity of the mental health court and align with best practices. This proposal, the Mental Health Court Expansion Initiative (MHCEI), addresses two program-specific priority areas: (1) promoting effective strategies to expand the use of mental health courts and related services; and (2) using a validated assessment tool to identify and prioritize individuals with a moderate or high risk of recidivism and a need for mental health treatment.
MHCEI addresses critical gaps in the Durham County diversion efforts by enhancing treatment supports for mental health court (MHC) clients and addressing the needs of individuals with mental illnesses who do not meet MHC eligibility requirements. There are five components of MHCEI: (1) a timely, streamlined and coordinated screening, assessment, and referral protocol using validated instruments that assess mental health needs, offense information, and criminogenic risk; (2) a co-located mental health professional within the District Attorney’s Office to triage cases and screen and assess potentially eligible individuals; (3) enhanced treatment services for MHC clients, particularly for those without Medicaid; (4) additional diversion programming for those who do not meet MHC criteria; (5) collaboration with specialized mental health probation officers and (6) cross-agency trainings for mental health and criminal justice partners. During the planning year, the applicant and partner will lay the groundwork for the five primary activities. In accordance with mental health court best practices, the partners will establish an inter-disciplinary advisory team of stakeholders from criminal justice, mental health, and substance use service providers to assist with planning and administration of the project. At the end of the planning year, the applicant team will produce a detailed protocol for mental health court operations, a logic model, and a flow chart diagramming the screening, assessment, referral, and engagement process.
At the close of the project period, the applicant team will provide a summary process and outcome evaluation reporting on the project activities as well as clients’ mental health (e.g., treatment engagement) and criminal justice outcomes (e.g., re-arrests, convictions). The University of North Carolina is a proposed subcontractor.