Mental Health and Criminal Justice Collaboration Grant

BJA has issued two grant applications:

The first, due March 14 is for a Second Chance Act Re-entry Program for Adults with Co-occurring Substance Abuse and Mental Disorders. Applicants must be able to “track participants and gain access to – and report “recidivism data – particularly returns to incarceration.”   If you are interested in applying for this federal grant and need assistance with measuring recidivism data, please contact us at

The second grant is  a Justice and Mental Health collaboration grant. This grant provides new opportunities to develop system changes. BJA will only ” accept applications that demonstrate that the proposed project will be administered jointly by and agency with responsibility for criminal or juvenile justice activities and a mental health agency. According to BJA, the solicitation seeks to “increase early identification and front-end diversion of people with mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders identified at early intercept points.” The application due date is April 4, 2017.

Conference on Jails and Mental Health

December 16, 2016, North Carolina Council on Community Programs kicked off its 2016 conference with a very informative pre-conference session on the community & LME/MCO role in reducing the number of people with mental illness in jail.  Information on the Stepping Up Initiative was presented from National, State, and Local perspectives.  There are about 28 North Carolina counties committed to implementing the Stepping Up program.  This is a great start, but we still have lots of work to do to get access to Stepping Up programs for every North Carolinian in need.

One of the days highlights was a presentation from Dr. Richard Cho, director of the Behavioral Health Division at The Council of State Governments Justice Center.  One part of his presentation gave a blueprint for county activists interested in jump starting a Stepping Up program:

A Common Framework for County Level Action

  1. Is your leadership committed?
  2. Do you have timely screening and assessment?
  3. Do you have baseline data?
  4. Have you conducted a comprehensive process analysis and service inventory?
  5. Have you prioritized policy, practice, and funding?
  6. Do you track progress?

Another highlight  was a panel of local county stakeholders from around the state who presented on the exciting initiatives they are and will be implementing at the intersection of mental illness and criminal justice.  Of the three counties represented, Durham had the most well developed program, including a comprehensive approach to ensuring the mentally ill are identified early in the jail experience and cross referenced with possible medical providers already involved with the individual, helping to create a continuum of care.   In October, we reported on a grant received by the Durham Sheriffs Department to help further implement the Stepping Up Initiative in Durham County.

If you are interested in helping your county join the growing movement toward better interactions between the mentally ill and the criminal justice system, visit The Stepping Up Initiative website or contact us for further information.

NC Institute on Medicine Issues Recommendations

The North Carolina Institute of Medicine’s  (NCIOM) Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use recently presented recommendations to the Joint Committee on Health and Human Services. The NCIOM is funded by the Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, with the goal of developing recommendations to increase and improve community-based and evidence-informed prevention, treatment, and recovery services and supports for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders.

The Task Force focused on recommendations to support a full continuum of community-based mental health and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery services for all North Carolinians.  Specifically,  the task force made 30 recommendations in total.  Some of the most promising recommendations include:

  • Increase access to and  utilization of mental health and substance use for uninsured residents.
  • NC should submit a 1915(c) waiver for kids with serious emotional disturbances.
  • Increase access to mental health and substance abuse services for older adults.
  • Payments should be connected to positive health outcomes for evidence based mental health and substance abuse services

Download the full report on the recommendations.

Update on Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use Pilot Programs

The legislative Committee on Health and Human Services recently received a November update about pilot programs developed from the Governor’s Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Use.

Dr. Jason Vogler, Director of The Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities, and Substance Abuse Services outlined with greater specificity how the funds will be allocated.

The 2016-17 state budget provided $20 million to fund these pilot programs.  The funding is woefully inadequate to fully fund the recommendations of the task force and virtually none of the funds are allocated to assist adult criminal justice initiatives. The application for participation in the pilot programs was only open to LME/MCOs.  However, once granted, the LME/MCOs will subcontract with local service providers.

The programs on the verge of being implemented are:

  • Child Tiered Case Management Pilot. Case managers will work closely with juvenile justice and child welfare offices to provide assessments, develop person-centered plans of care, and link children/youth and their families to other recovery supports. This approach can assist with preventing youth from moving deeper into the justice system. Application period closed Nov. 14.
  • Comprehensive Case Management for Adults with Mental Health Treatment Needs and Substance Use Disorder Treatment Needs (AMH/ASU). A community-based behavioral health provider would provide around the clock coverage in the hospital Emergency Department (ED) to ensure individuals discharged would be immediately linked to community supports – preventing or shortening future ED visits. Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Nov. 23, 2016.
  • Facility-Based Crisis Services for Children and Adolescents. Community-based, non-hospital residential setting facilities are specialized and cost-effective alternatives for individuals in crisis who need short-term intensive evaluate.

You can read more on the pilot programs and the role local service providers may play.   If a pilot is located in your area, you’ll want to know about it.

New Contracts Awarded for CBI and Substance Abuse Services

The Department of Public Safety recently awarded over $3 million in contracts to agencies providing evidence-based Cognitive Behavioral Intervention and substance abuse services to individuals on probation or post-release supervision.

These contracts were awarded in a re-bid process because some providers withdrew from contracts leaving areas without services.  Many others have found it difficult to operate under the extremely low monthly reimbursements paid out under the current contracts.  There were also a few areas in which agencies had not bid for services.

While program completion is an important measure,  it would be better to reward improvements in completion, rather than completion alone.  Since the high risk/high need  population currently has a recidivism rate (measured by re-arrest) ranging from 35%-60%, even the most successful programs or probation officers are unlikely to realize a 100% completion rate.

Contracts were awarded to:

  • Coastal Horizons – $469,436 – Duplin, Pitt, Sampson and Wayne.
  • Freedom House Recovery Center – $228,521 – Caswell, Chatham, Orange, Person, and Warren
  • Insight Human Services – $2,044,566 – Cabarrus, Gaston, Guilford, Mecklenburg and Randolph
  • Loving Light Community Outreach – $55,339 – Chowan and Gates
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council – $201,181, Rowan
  • PORT Human Services – $191,014 – Pitt
  • Walk Through the Valley – $412,722 – Edgecombe, Nash and Wilson

Durham Awarded BJS Grant to Address Mental Health Needs in Jail

The Durham Sheriff’s Department has been awarded a Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grant of $228,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJS).

The purpose of the grant is to implement a system wide enhancement of identifying, screening and tracking prisoners in the jail in order to improve the jail’s ability to provide interventions.  Funds will also provide training to the jail staff in dealing with persons with mental illness.

The jail is partnering with the Criminal Justice Resource Center which operates the pre-trial service program and STARR, a substance abuse treatment program inside the jail.  Alliance Behavioral Health care, the LME/MCO for the Durham area is also a partner.

The jail is also preparing to implement a Mental Health pod/unit  to address mental health needs more appropriately.  Ongoing training and staff support will be critical to the successful operation of this pod.

Durham County is actively participating in Stepping Up,  a nationwide initiative supported by the national Association of County Commissioners.  Stepping Up is designed to reduce the number of persons with mental illness in local jails. This process has helped partners identify key areas for improvement.  We commend the Sheriff’s Department for working in collaboration with other community agencies to address mental health issues in the jail.