Improving the lives of justice-involved individuals with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system

A large component of our program of research informs practice, policy and future research to improve the lives of justice-involved individuals with mental illness throughout the criminal justice system including courts, jails, prisons and probation/parole. In partnership with the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, state agencies, as well as local criminal justice authorities, we conduct research on and evaluate mental health programs, policies and practices within criminal justice system, develop strategies to enhance the implementation and uptake of interventions at the interface of the mental health and criminal justice systems, and use research and evaluation results to inform real-world decisions at the local and state levels. Our program has engaged in a number of services and research projects across the criminal justice system

  • Improving access to evidence-based mental illness training for police officers
    • Conducted a study of an adaptation of crisis intervention training for police officers and sheriffs who encounter individuals with mental illness
  • Improving the impact of mental health courts for people with mental illness
    • Completed a randomized controlled trial of an adaptation of motivational interviewing for participants in a local mental health court;
    • Conducted a brief study of financial capability and participants in a local mental health court
    • Assisting the expansion of mental health courts and services across the state;
  • Improving jail screening, identification, and treatment of people with mental illnesses
    • Implementing an evaluation of mental health screening and triage in a local county jail
  • Improving prison outcomes for people with mental illnesses through art and research
    • Collaborating with the Vera Institute on a study examining the wellbeing of correctional officers in North Carolina prisons
    • Provide support for the Brushes with Life initiative which brings non-directive therapeutic art groups to inmates
  • Improving probation and community reentry outcomes for people with mental illnesses
    • Partnered with the North Carolina Department of Public Safety to conduct validation studies of criminogenic risk assessment tools for probation and prison
    • Designed a statewide mental health training program for probation officers in North Carolina see Module
    • Conducting a randomized controlled trial of specialty mental health probation for probationers with severe mental illnesses
    • Engaged in exploratory research on defining and better understanding forensic assertive community treatment (FACT) eligible consumers