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Cumberland County FY 2023 Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $550,000)

Cumberland County, NJ proposes to implement an innovative response to combat high rates of individuals with mental health disorders (MHDs) and co-occurring mental health & substance use disorders (MHSUDs) repeatedly caught up in the criminal justice system through a two-pronged approach: (1). Operate a court diversion program at both Municipal and Superior levels; (2). Implement a county jail re-entry effort.

We are requesting $549.999.75 and providing $237,341 match funding for this collaboration called Project Re-Direct, demonstrating the goal to divert struggling individuals from the criminal justice system to stable emotional well-being and long-term success. Cumberland County Prosecutor’s Office (CCPO) will subaward with Cumberland County Guidance Center (CCGC) who will deliver the assessment, treatment, and case management for the referred individuals. In FY10, the county jail received a JMHCP award, entitled Jail Diversion Task Force-Law Enforcement and Mental Health, but cannot retrieve the award number due to the records retention period expiration date. 

Cumberland County is the poorest and least healthy in NJ. The frequency of mental health distress rate is 4.9 days out of past 30, compared to NJ’s at 3.87, ranking it last in NJ. Cumberland ranks third for frequency of diagnosed depression at 19.4%, surpassing NJ’s 14.8%. In 2018, there were 1,260 cases of MI/CMISA reported by county providers, representing 56% of all treatment admissions. Our suicide rate of 8.5 is higher than NJ’s and rated as needing improvement. Police in the County respond to 1,000-1,200 psychological calls annually. Municipal Courts estimate 444 defendants annually have cases due to their MHD/MHSUDs, while Superior Court approximate 624 annually.

Project ReDirect’s target population is individuals with MHD/MHSUDs who have third or fourth degree non-violent or disorderly persons offenses in Municipal or Superior Court, as well as those leaving county jail to reintegrate back into the County. We anticipate annually serving 90 through court diversion and 50 via jail reentry.

Project ReDirect will recruit two Strategy Design Committees: (1) Courts Diversion Program to finalize its eligible charges, referral process, protocols, & documents; (2) Jail Reentry Program to determine the same. Representatives will include: CCPO, Municipal Courts, Office of Public Defender, CCGC, County jail & its contracted mental health provider.

Project ReDirect advances DOJ priorities in five ways: 1) promote racial equity & removal of barriers; 2) rural; 3) use of validated assessment tools; 4) active participation of co-applications; & 5) utilize funds for transition & reentry services for incarcerated populations.

Date Created: September 26, 2023