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October 2016

Next Meeting

COMIO's next meeting will be on November 2nd from 10:00 a.m. - 1:00 p.m. at the State Capitol, Room 3191, in Sacramento, CA. The Council will be sharing draft recommendations for COMIO's Legislative Report, providing an Update on the Stepping Up Initiative, and presenting COMIO Best Practices Awards to the San Diego County Probation Department and California Highway Patrol.

Promising Practices

''What works' for justice-involved people with mental illness"

PowerPoint Presentation and Frequently Asked Questions.

Jennifer Skeem, PhD professor at the School of Social Welfare and Goldman School of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, presented to the Council in May 2016. People with mental illness are overrepresented in the criminal justice system with the majority having a substance abuse disorder. When incarcerated they have longer stays because they are more likely to have behavioral problems and therefore are not engaging in programs to earn credits or are placed in administrative segregation - both resulting in reduced likeliness to be paroled. Once in community supervision they also "fail," having much higher rates of recidivism.

Skeem investigates the implicit model we have of 'what works' - sentence to treatment or a special program, control psychiatric symptoms, and then see reduced recidivism. Yet there are some problems with this model according to the data and research. Symptoms rarely cause crime and psychiatric services rarely reduce crime.

Removing Every Barrier and Rehabilitating (REBAR)

The San Bernardino County Public Defender's Office has received multiple awards acknowledging its innovative program, Removing Every Barrier and Rehabilitating (REBAR), which is designed to provide legal, social, and practical support through four sub-programs; Re-Entry Assistance Program at Day Reporting Centers and other community re-entry events, Community Outreach, Proposition 47 Team, and the Post Release Community Supervision(PRCS) Team.
The PRCS Team features a partnership between social workers and attorneys to asses and address the needs of clients to refer them to the appropriate services and community resources. Attorneys have also developed relationships with the county Department of Behavioral Health to better connect them with services, especially those related to medication and transportation. Clients are also assigned a social worker post-release. The program is supplemented with interns from California State University, San Bernardino and Loma Linda University.
REBAR is an excellent example of a promising practice for integrating behavioral health and criminal justice and realizing that for many clients, especially those with a serious mental illness, incarceration is not the answer. In recognition of this program, the San Bernardino County Public Defender's Office received the California Public Defender's Association of Counties (NACo) Achievement Award in Criminal Justice and Public Safety.


Helpful Resources
COMIO's Infographic on the challenges that former offenders face upon reentry along with the Criminal Expungement Factsheet are great tools to help individuals manage their justice status and its impact on employment opportunities and other aspects of community integration.

The Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC
PPIC recently published two works on corrections reform and the effects of realignment on county jails. The first being a report on the dramatic decrease in incarceration with recidivism rates and corrections spending remaining high (read more here). The second being a study on the effects that reform has had on California county jails over the past decade (read more here)
United States Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA)
BJA launched an online toolkit Monday that supports law enforcement agencies around the country in planning and implementing effective public-safety responses to people who have mental illnesses.
Highlighting the role of police departments in advancing these approaches, BJA announced the Police-Mental Health Collaboration (PMHC) Toolkit at the 2016 International Association of Chiefs of Police Conference in San Diego, California. The PMHC Toolkit was developed in partnership with The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and gathers best practices and resources to help law enforcement agencies partner with mental health providers to respond appropriately and safely to people with mental illnesses... (read more).

Santa Clara Board of Supervisors
On August 30, the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors unanimously approved recommendations from the Jail Diversion and Behavioral Health Subcommittee of the Re-Entry Network, chaired by Supervisor Cindy Chavez and Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Stephen Manley. The recommendations range from expanding outpatient and housing services for clients to supervision models and data evaluation methods, but they all intend to decrease the number of people with mental illness going to jail.
On September 13, the Board unanimously approved the subcommittee's request for Appropriation Modification No. 23 - $4,894,980 adjusting revenues and expenditures in the Behavioral Health Services Department (BHSD), and Public Safety Realignment (Assembly Bill 109) budgets, and transferring funds from the General Fund Contingency Reserve to the BHSD and the Office of Pretrial Services budgets relating to implementing the Jail Diversion Program recommendations. To follow the work of the Jail Diversion and Behavioral Health Subcommittee of the Reentry Network, visit the Santa Clara Board of Supervisors website.