The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center will present its findings and recommendations to improve Douglas County’s justice and behavioral health systems during the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council meeting at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, in Flory Meeting Hall at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, 2120 Harper Street. The meeting is open to the public.
In October 2015, Douglas County Commissioners passed a Stepping Up resolution, joining a national movement to reduce the number of people in jail who have mental illnesses and co-occurring substance addictions. Stepping Up is a partnership of the CSG Justice Center, the National Association of Counties and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation and it was launched in May 2015.
Since joining the Stepping Up initiative, Douglas County has reduced the number of people with serious mental illnesses who are booked into the Douglas County Correctional Facility by 56 percent. In 2014, 18 percent of those in the Correctional Facility were identified as having a serious mental illness, and in 2018, the percentage was 8 percent. The national average is 17 percent.
In June 2018, Douglas County was named among the original cohort of seven Stepping Up Innovator Counties in the country in recognition of its efforts to identify people with mental illnesses in the Correctional Facility and consistently collect data on them. Also, in June 2018, Douglas County launched an intensive data-driven review with the CSG Justice Center, a national, nonpartisan nonprofit, to better achieve a system-wide impact on this population.
During the CJCC meeting, Risë Haneberg, deputy division director for behavioral health, and Kati Habert, deputy program director for behavioral health, both of the CSG Justice Center, will present a 27-page report with findings from their work.
“This report presents opportunities to expand what Douglas County is already doing well and improve upon systems performance as well as serve as a blueprint for other counties across the nation working to end the cycle of people with mental illnesses entering their jails,” Haneberg said.
Haneberg said the recommendations were developed in partnership with Douglas County stakeholders and fall under Stepping Up’s four key measures:
- Reduce the number of people with serious mental illness (SMI) booked into the Correctional Facility.
- Reduce the average length of stay for people with SMI.
- Increase connections to care for people with SMI.
- Reduce recidivism among people with SMI.
The recommendations were based on the most realistically achievable opportunities for high potential impact. Among the recommendations:
- Develop a mobile crisis response team.
- Expand the co-responder program to include Baldwin City, Eudora and University of Kansas police departments and expand coverage hours.
- Implement a text messaging service to remind people of court appointments.
- Implement a validated pretrial risk screening tool.
- Develop a pretrial decision matrix to guide judicial decision-making.
- Ensure connection to care by establishing a process to inform service providers and supervision staff of release from the Correctional Facility.
- Implement a plan for transportation to services after release from the Correctional Facility.
- Collaborate with the Douglas County Behavioral Health Leadership Coalition to ensure that the criminal justice population is included in planning for crisis triage teams and services at the new Treatment and Recovery Campus of Douglas County.
- Complete the Brief Jail Mental Health Screen on people assigned to pretrial and probation supervision who did not receive a screening the Correctional Facility.
- Develop a specialized caseload for people assigned to probation who have SMI.
- Hire and embed a mental health professional within Court Services and Community Corrections.
Douglas County Criminal Justice Coordinator Mike Brouwer said the CSG Justice Center’s recommendations are in line with work that’s already under way in Douglas County and with what agencies hope to achieve. “Douglas County has been a leader and innovator so the recommendations match what we already are wanting to do to improve services and programs,” he said.
For the full report, visit http://dgcoks.org/justicecenterreport.