Criminal Justice

Justice-involved individuals diagnosed with mental illness are often incarcerated instead of accessing community-based mental healthcare. As a result, they are overrepresented in jails and prisons throughout the U.S. A high prevalence of mental illness and substance use exist among jail inmates, and they reenter society without the necessary supports following incarceration. This occurs for a myriad of reasons, including the lack of community services to better ensure successful reintegration, and the lack of support to meet basic needs for food, housing, and transportation. The outcome is additional arrests and incarcerations.

The Mountain Plains Mental Health Technology Transfer Center (MHTTC) team is dedicated to addressing mental health among those who are involved with the criminal justice system. In response, the team conducted a needs assessment of training and technical assistance in December 2019 among probation and parole officers in Region 8. In response to the findings of that survey, the Mountain Plains MHTTC team has begun identifying existing resources and technical assistance available to those working with justice-involved individuals.


Products and Trainings from the Mountain Plains MHTTC

Mental Health Training and Technical Assistance Needs: Findings, Implications, and Summary of a Survey of Probation and Parole Officers in Region 8
January 2020
The Mountain Plains MHTTC team, in partnership with SAMHSA and state probation and parole offices, conducted an electronic survey in November and December 2019. The survey was distributed electronically to probation and parole officers in all six states located in the United States Department of Health & Human Services Region 8. Results of this survey are presented in this report.


Additional Resources Addressing Mental Health for Justice-Involved Individuals

A host of resources currently exist to serve the mental health training and technical assistance needs of both probation and parole staff, as well as other professionals who work with justice-involved individuals.

Resources Funded or Provided under the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funds and supports over a dozen programs and initiatives that can assist those who work with justice-involved individuals who also have a mental health and/or substance use disorder. These resources, toolkits, trainings, and webpages promote early intervention and treatment as healthier alternatives to detainment, help identify treatment resources, locate housing assistance, and address integrated care, among other topics.

Additional Resources Not Funded by SAMHSA

Several organizations, associations, and governmental agencies have begun to address the mental health and substance use disorder needs among individuals involved in the criminal justice system. These resources include technical assistance manuals, diversion interventions, best practices, data reports, and a list of resources that provide a wealth of information about state, federal, and organizational resources for probation and parole officials.