Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $644,469)
In July 2022 the Vermont Supreme Court established the Commission on Mental Health and the Courts (hereafter “Commission”). The Commission was established in recognition of the positive impact that courts can have in addressing the needs of court-involved individuals with behavioral health issues. The Commission is comprised of representatives from each branch of state government and includes judges, legislators, and representatives from executive branch agencies that address the needs of people with mental illness in the justice system. The establishment of the Commission was a direct result of the Judiciary’s participation in the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators New England Regional Mental Health Summit held in Burlington, Vermont in May 2022.
The Commission’s purposes are to: 1) advance the pursuit of equal justice under the law while identifying advances in the justice system that will positively impact the administration of justice where it intersects with mental health; 2) evaluate solutions; 3) recommend change. The Commission receives administrative support from the Court Administrator’s Office.
The Judiciary is seeking Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program funding to support an array of training activities and the development of training materials that will advance the Commission’s work. The training will focus on behavioral health deflection for those at risk to themselves or others. Training events and materials will be developed by the Commission with input from the full Commission as well as a subject matter expert from the National Center for State Courts who has been engaged by the Judiciary to support the Commission’s work.
The service area for the proposed activities is the entire state of Vermont. Training events and training materials will be designed for and provided to judges, court staff, prosecutors, public defenders, state agency staff, legal aid and legal service providers, and members of the Vermont bar. As a result of the training activities, those trained will be expected to have increased their knowledge of how to improve the justice response to court-involved people with behavioral health needs. Funds will be passed through by the Judiciary as outlined in the solicitation to parties to be determined.