Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $1,250,000)
Individuals with a behavioral health diagnosis or intellectual and developmental disability pose a unique set of challenges to the criminal justice system. Their needs are complex, and the disorders they suffer from are commonly misunderstood. Unfortunately, an inability to recognize and support the needs of these individuals can all too often result in crisis and negative outcomes. To support the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s (TDCJ) mission of providing public safety, promoting positive changes in behavior and reintegrating inmates into society, training and education on the distinct needs of those with behavioral health diagnoses or intellectual and developmental disability is essential.
The TDCJ’s Training and Leader Development Division (TLDD) is charged with the essential task of providing statutorily mandated training for the approximately 24,000 correctional officers, 1,400 parole officers, 2,600 community supervision officers, and an additional 11,000 criminal justice professionals employed with TDCJ. TDCJ’s Correctional Officers receive 37 hours of instruction on inmate mental health during pre-service training, 11.5 hours of which specifically address non-violent crisis intervention or other behavioral intervention techniques. Correctional officers assigned to work at one of TDCJ’s eight Mental Health Therapeutic Diversion Program (MHTDP) facilities receive an additional 16 hours of instruction focusing on working with our mental health inmate population. Currently, no hours in the Parole Officer Pre-Service Training Academy or Community Supervision Officer Certification Training are directly devoted to the topic of crisis intervention or the supervision of individuals with behavioral health diagnoses or intellectual or developmental disabilities.
The TDCJ seeks grant funds to develop training in the areas of behavioral health, intellectual or developmental disabilities, and crisis intervention by using evidence-based strategies and recognized best practices specifically related to de-escalation of individuals who are experiencing crisis. Grant funds would be used to hire a Training Specialist curriculum writer that is responsible for the planning, development, and deployment of a best practice response to persons with behavioral health conditions or developmental disabilities who are experiencing a crisis and to provide necessary equipment for this position. Grant funds will also be allocated for staff travel to conferences and trainings, related to the development of the training curriculum and to observe best practices related to crisis response and intervention training being conducted by other states. The BJA’s Crisis Response and Intervention Training Program and Forensic Assertive Community Treatment curriculums will be TLDD’s guide throughout the development of this project.