Policy Brief

Support Local Efforts to Reduce Mental Illness in Jails

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    Support Local Efforts to Reduce Mental Illness in Jails

    ACTION NEEDED:

    Urge your members of Congress to support local efforts to reduce the number of individuals with mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring disorders in county jails by providing full funding for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) in the annual appropriations process. JMHCP was reauthorized for fiscal years 2017-2021 through the 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255) at $50 million per year and should be funded at this level annually to maximize the impact of local efforts to address the prevalence of mental illness in the criminal justice system. JMHCP is currently funded at $35 million under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.

    BACKGROUND:

    Enacted by Congress in 2004, the JMHCP is a grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The grants, which are available to state, tribal and local governments, can be used to develop and implement programs designed to improve outcomes for individuals with mental health conditions who are involved in the criminal justice system. JMHCP was formerly referred to as the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA).

    Collectively, state and local governments use these grants for a broad range of activities, including jail diversion programs, mental health courts, creating or expanding community-based treatment programs and providing in-jail treatment and transitional services. In addition, grant funds may be used to enhance training for criminal justice and mental health system personnel on how to appropriately respond to crises involving individuals with mental health disorders.

    Although Congress has authorized JMHCP at $50 million since its inception, appropriators have never fully funded the grant program. Currently, JMHCP is funded at $35 million under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. This level of funding, although far less than the program’s authorized level, represents the highest level of funding for the program since FY 2010. JMHCP should be funded at the full authorization level to maximize the impact of the program in assisting local efforts to reduce mental illness and substance abuse in jails.

    Under the 2016 reauthorization of JMHCP, the program’s scope was expanded to allow grant funds to be used for additional purposes related to addressing substance abuse, mental health or co-occurring disorders in the criminal justice system. Among these purposes is “sequential intercept mapping,” which aims to assess how individuals with mental illness flow through the criminal justice system and how they can be diverted from the system at different junctures.

    KEY TALKING POINTS:

    The Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) is a grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that provides federal funding to assist state, local and tribal governments in their efforts to improve outcomes for individuals with mental health conditions who are involved in the criminal justice system.

    An estimated two million individuals with serious mental health conditions are booked into county jails each year, resulting in prevalence rates of serious mental conditions in jails that are three to six times higher than in the general population. An even greater number of individuals who are detained in jails each year have mental health problems that do not rise to the level of a serious mental health condition but may still require a resource-intensive response.

    Despite its $50 million authorization level, typically JMHCP has not been fully funded in the annual appropriations process. Currently, the program is receiving $35 million as appropriated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021. JMHCP should be fully funded at $50 million per year in upcoming appropriations bills.

     

    For further information, contact Brett Mattson at 202.942.4234 or bmattson@naco.org.

    Urge your members of Congress to support local efforts to reduce the number of individuals with mental health, substance abuse or co-occurring disorders in county jails by providing full funding for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) in the annual appropriations process. JMHCP was reauthorized for fiscal years 2017-2021 through the 21st Century Cures Act (P.L. 114-255) at $50 million per year and should be funded at this level annually to maximize the impact of local efforts to address the prevalence of mental illness in the criminal justice system. JMHCP is currently funded at $35 million under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021.
    2021-07-06
    Policy Brief
    2021-07-06