July Consensus Project Newsletter: New Brief on Enrolling People with SMI in Benefits Now Available

Justice Center Releases New Brief on Enrolling People with SMI in Benefits

For people with serious mental illnesses (SMI) leaving jail and prison, Medicaid and Supplemental Security Income/Social Security Disability Insurance (SSI/SSDI) benefits can help ensure access to health care, housing, and other essential supports in the critical period immediately following release. The 2009 passage of healthcare reform legislation expands eligibility for Medicaid, making access to benefits even more important in the transition-to-community process. However, as many practitioners who work with these individuals know, benefits enrollment can be a complex and confusing process.

To improve how jurisdictions identify and enroll eligible individuals with SMI in benefits programs, the Council of State Governments Justice Center has released a policy brief, “Facilitating Medicaid Enrollment for People with Serious Mental Illnesses Leaving Jail or Prison: Key Questions for Policymakers Committed to Improving Health and Public Safety.” This brief provides guidance for elected officials and corrections and mental health directors to understand

  1. what percentage of the corrections population is eligible for Medicaid and SSI/SSDI;
  2. how to identify eligible individuals at intake to the facility; and
  3. when to begin the application process for benefits program.

Click here to download this policy brief.

The Justice Center has published several resources on access to federal benefits, including most recently a set of frequently asked questions on healthcare reform and the new Medicaid eligibility criteria. The Justice Center has also developed an interactive chart comparing different benefits programs, a guide on why Medicaid matters for people with serious mental illness leaving jail, a series of case studies of states that ensure timely access to benefits, and more. These and other reentry resources are available here.


Share Your Mental Health Court Photos!

The Council of State Governments Justice Center invites you to send photos from your mental health court, which will be used in the Bureau of Justice Assistance-supported Developing a Mental Health Court: An Interdisciplinary Curriculum. Photos can be of program participants, a program event (e.g., graduation ceremony), a courthouse, members of the court/treatment team, or something else that reflects your efforts and good work. Please send your photos to Alex Blandford at ablandford@csg.org.

CSG Justice Center Releases New Report on How School Discipline Relates to Academic and Juvenile Justice Outcomes

In an unprecedented study of nearly one million Texas public secondary school students followed for more than six years, nearly 60 percent were suspended or expelled, according to a report released last week by the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center in partnership with the Public Policy Research Institute of Texas A&M University.

Breaking Schools’ Rules: A Statewide Study of How School Discipline Relates to Students’ Success and Juvenile Justice Involvementfeatures this and other key findings:

  • Of the nearly 1 million public secondary school students studied, about 15 percent were suspended or expelled 11 times or more; nearly half of these students with 11 or more disciplinary actions were involved in the juvenile justice system.
  • Only three percent of the disciplinary actions were for conduct in which state law mandated suspensions and expulsions; the rest were made at the discretion of school officials primarily in response to violations of local schools’ conduct codes.
  • African-American students and those with particular educational disabilities were disproportionately disciplined for discretionary actions.
  • Repeated suspensions and expulsions predicted poor academic outcomes. Only 40 percent of students disciplined 11 times or more graduated from high school during the study period, and 31 percent of students disciplined one or more times repeated their grade at least once.
  • Schools that had similar characteristics, including the racial composition and economic status of the student body, varied greatly in how frequently they suspended or expelled students.

The full report and an FAQ about the study findings can be downloaded here.

National Reentry Resource Center Releases FAQs on Juvenile Justice and Reentry

The National Reentry Resource Center, which, like the Consensus Project, is coordinated by the Council of State Governments Justice Center, recently published a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and answers on juvenile justice and reentry. To view the NRRC’s juvenile justice FAQ, click here.

Now Available: Thinking for a Change 3.0

An evidence-based cognitive behavioral curriculum from the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), Thinking for a Change (T4C) has broadly influenced the correctional field and the way correctional facilitators work with offenders and inmates. Studies show that T4C, which can be delivered to correctional clients by trained facilitators, can reduce recidivism among offenders.

To download the recently released third version of T4C, click here.

Register for the 2011 CIT International Conference

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) International is hosting its annual conference in Virginia Beach, VA from September 12-14, 2011. The conference will consist of over 100 workshops and a plenary presentation from clinical psychologist Dr. Joel Dvoskin. To register for the event either as an exhibitor or participant, click here.


Articles from newspapers around the country covering issues at the intersection of mental health and criminal justice can be found on the Consensus Project website. Some recent headlines from the homepage are posted below.

WSAV (SC) — Bluffton police get crisis intervention training

7/27/11 — "The Bluffton Police Department started crisis intervention training that will assist them in dealing with folks that have a mental illness."

Press-Telegram (CA) — Long Beach police program seeks to help, not jail homeless

7/23/11 — "A local survey showed more than $5 million was spent last year in emergency room visits, hospital stays and fire department/ambulance services for just 350 homeless people in Central Long Beach."

Cincinnati.com (KY) — Mental 'holds' are on the rise

7/17/11 — "In the eight-county Northern Kentucky area served by the NorthKey Community Care agency, 425 people were admitted within the past year to Eastern State Hospital in Lexington for 72-hour holds. That number is up from 343 admissions the previous year."

Northwest Herald (IL) — Mental Health Court puts some on different path

7/13/11 — "Since the Mental Health Court started in April 2007, three of the 31 graduates have committed new offenses, for about a 10 percent recidivism rate, special court coordinator Scott Block said."

Lawrence Journal-World (KS) — Lawrence police to get additional training on handling mental health-related calls

7/10/11 — "Lawrence police respond to a variety of mental health-related calls on a daily basis — everything from welfare checks to suicide attempts."

St. George News (UT) — Mental health court: helping the mentally ill find help and treatment rather than incarceration

7/10/11 — "Typically, defendants are brought into the courtroom and arraigned, tried, and either acquitted or sentenced. It’s nothing new or overly spectacular in the world of the judicial system. However, a new type of court has been put into play at the Fifth District Court of Utah for certain individuals for whom the traditional brands of justice may hinder more than aid."

Des Moines Register (IA) — Polk struggles to care for mentally ill inmates

7/7/11 — "State, county and local officials say they are getting serious about improving services for the mentally ill, who too often end up in local jails without services they need."

The Republic (DE) — Feds, Delaware officials reach agreement on community treatment for people with mental illness

7/6/11 — "Delaware's mental health system will undergo a major transformation, treating more patients in community settings rather than in institutions, under a wide-ranging agreement announced Wednesday by federal and state officials."