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New River Valley Planning Grant for No-refusal Drop-off Alternatives for Jail Diversion

Award Information

Award #
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2009, $50,000)

The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) seeks to increase public safety through an innovative, cross-system, collaborative response to individuals with mental illness who come in contact with the criminal or juvenile justice systems. This program is funded through Public Law 111-8 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2009). The program is designed to increase public safety by facilitating collaboration among the criminal justice, juvenile justice, and mental health and substance abuse treatment systems to increase access to services for offenders with mental illness. Activities under this initiative will encourage early intervention for 'system-involved' individuals with mental illness; provide new and existing mental health courts with various treatment options; maximize diversion opportunities for non-violent offenders with mental illness and co-occurring disorders; promote training for justice and treatment professionals on criminal justice processed and mental health and substance abuse issues; and facilitate communication, collaboration, and the delivery of support services among justice professionals, treatment and related service providers, and governmental partners.

Montgomery County will use its planning grant to research, identify, and develop a collaborative plan to initiate systemic change by seeking viable alternatives to a no-refusal drop-off site for mentally ill individuals. The project will seek as its end result an implementation plan to accomplish the following: intercept mentally ill individuals from the criminal justice system at the earliest point possible while still promoting public safety; decrease the negative impact of mental health evaluations on consumers; lower arrest and incarceration rates for mentally ill and co-occurring disorder (MI/COD) persons in crisis; and decrease community policing resources by decreasing the amount of time spent with mental health evaluations.

A Project Leadership Team has been identified with representatives from the three law enforcement agencies who respond to the greatest number of mental health related calls and mental health professionals who are directly involved in all civil commitment processes. The team will direct the research and planning process, serve as the core group that ensures stakeholder's recommendations are incorporated, identify sites to visit, and hold responsibility for the overall completion of the project. Within the first month, identified stakeholders will come together to discuss the scope of the grant and planning project. Consensus around goals and objectives will be solidified through discussion and review of community needs. Care was taken to develop the stakeholder group and to ensure that it includes members that represent law enforcement agencies, community mental health providers, consumers, family members and advocates. During the initial meetings, discussions will include brainstorming to produce ideas for alternatives and specify barriers to future implementation. Specific memoranda of understanding regarding stakeholder commitment to the planning process will be developed during the first two months. Utilizing research information obtained and knowledge gained through site visits, the Project Leadership Team will begin development of alternatives to a drop-off site and address barriers to implementation. Regular quarterly meetings of the stakeholder group will ensure that all vested parties have the opportunity to provide input, express concerns, and participate to the degree desired.

The grant funds will support a part-time research and funding planner position to work with the project coordinator to ensure the project's goals and timelines are met, travel expenses for stakeholders to visit successful jail diversion programs, and planning meetings for stakeholders.


Date Created: September 15, 2009