National Alliance on Mental Illness NC 2017 CIT Conference

Last week, National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) held its annual CIT Conference. The conference was designed for law enforcement officers, jail administrators, court personnel, emergency responders, social workers, counselors, and mental health advocates. During the conference attendees heard from criminal justice professionals about how to effectively and humanely deal with the growing number of criminal justice involved people with mental health issues.

A highlight of the conference was a lecture by Risdon Slate, Ph.D., Criminology Professor. He bravely shared how his personal battle with mental illness caused him to be involved with the criminal justice system. As a criminal justice professional who has personally experienced being mentally ill and justice involved, his perspective was powerful and enlightening.

During an award luncheon at the conference, the following people were recognized for their outstanding work with CIT:

CIT Officer of the Year CIT Champion of the Year
Officer Darrell Meadows Suzanne Porter
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Dept.

CIT Volunteer of the Year Outstanding CIT Trainer of the Year
Keith Gibson Senior Sergeant Hardin Brown, Jr.
Cumberland County Sheriff Dept.

Outstanding Law Enforcement Executive of the Year
Sergeant Christopher Smith
New Hanover County Sheriff Department

Outstanding CIT Partnership
Lincoln County CIT Steering Committee

We encourage you to reach out to the municipalities the honorees represent to learn more about how CIT is making a difference in their communities and how you may be able to advocate for CIT training in your community.

Nancy Shakir: A Loss to the Advocacy Community

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Nancy Shakir, a friend to CJPC and a tireless activist for social justice in North Carolina, including educating citizens about the documented racial bias in North Carolina death penalty cases and the Racial Justice Act. Even as she struggled with her health, she NEVER stopped working to make North Carolina fair and just.

Nancy Shakir dedicated her life to serving others. When running for Congress in 2010, she shared that she was a retired educator who started her career in the classroom, but eventually served in administrative roles. The self-described activist wrote that she began her activism as a teen during the Civil Rights movement when she participated in demonstrations against Woolworth’s and other companies that did not hire people of color. She was a founding member and officer of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.

Shakir wrote opinion editorials for the Fayetteville Observer where she served as a member of the Community Advisory Board. She volunteered with the Cumberland County Progressives, hosted a local Progressives cable show and volunteered as a reader for the blind and as a reading buddy in Fayetteville schools.

Right until the end of her life, Nancy Shaker gave all she could to create social change. On a personal note, Ms. Nancy was a warm, beautiful soul who we all should strive to emulate. At this critical time in American history, Ms. Nancy should serve as the prototype for what our activism to protect social and civil rights should look like. We were privileged to work alongside her and we promise to use her life as an example of who and what CJPC should be.

Re-entry Grants Awarded

In mid-January, the Department of Public Safety awarded Re-entry contracts to  four additional “Intermediate Agencies” areas of the state.   Five areas are currently funded.

The new areas and agencies are:

  • Leading into New Communities –  New Hanover
  • Durham County – Durham
  • Family Resource Center South Atlantic – Wake
  • Freedom Life Ministries –  McDowell

Agencies received $150,000 each to coordinate local re-entry councils and job development for the re-entry population.

We are delighted to see funding for Re-entry Council work move forward.  All funding is expected to be short term and agencies are expected to identify local funding.  We would like to see some state funds be allocated to this purpose  to insure the continuation of the Councils.

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.