Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $274,050)
The 5th Judicial District Behavioral Health Docket will benefit a geographically large, mainly rural population in linking criminal justice involved individuals with needed resources for mental health crises. The current system does not adequately address the behavioral health needs underlying criminal behavior and only allows for incarceration or hospitalization in extreme cases. The vast majority of citizens who have unmet mental health needs who then end up in the court system are capable of safely living in the community with proper services and support. By providing those wrap-around services with a centralized point of review- the behavioral health docket- the initiative can reduce recidivism, reduce the money spent to incarcerate low-level non-violent offenders, and ensure valuable hospital resources are available to those who need inpatient care.
This application will address 3 of the program-specific priority areas: creating a mental health court, reducing recidivism by employing evidence-based practices to address underlying clinical and other needs, and aggregate empirical data showing increased public health and safety as well as documentation that funds will be used to provide transitional and re-entry services for docket participants.
Isle of Wight County is applying for this grant opportunity to benefit the entire 5th Judicial Circuit which encompasses the Cities of Suffolk and Franklin and the Counties of Southampton and Isle of Wight. The total population of the district is approximate 154,000, with varying poverty levels in each locality spanning from 7.6% (Isle of Wight) to 17.5% in Franklin. The majority of individuals living in poverty are Black, and this area has an employment rate at or lower than the United States average. The target population for this docket will include those traditionally marginalized or overlooked community members, including those living below the federal poverty threshold or racially disadvantaged as those are the individuals least likely to have the ways and means to connect with crucial mental health services and the most likely to be targeted in the criminal justice system.
Isle of Wight is requesting $400,000 over the 3-year period of the grant, and is not a previous recipient of JMHCP grant funds. The mental health court docket will serve approximately 30 participants at a time, allocated across the entire district, and create a safety net of wrap-around services, community support and supervision, treatment, and monthly check-ins of the Court to determine compliance and progress. Successful graduates will have criminal charges reduced or dismissed.