People with mental health conditions—including those with serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and psychosis—face disproportionate contact with the justice system. Once in contact with the justice system, too often, they do not get access to needed supports while in custody or preparing for reentry.
To address this, with the support of JMHCP, communities across the country have started implementing interventions at each point in the criminal justice system, from law enforcement contact to reentry, to connect people with appropriate mental health care and divert them to treatment whenever possible. These interventions include building crisis stabilization units, implementing mental health treatment courts, embedding clinicians in jails, using telehealth services, developing comprehensive case plans, and more.
Stepping Up Initiative
The collaboration between the Houston Police Department and The Harris Center for Mental Health and IDD—our local mental health authority—has been the reason for the many successes we have accomplished in better serving our community, particularly those who are living with or affected by mental illness.Sergeant Rebecca Skillern, Mental Health Division, Houston Police Department
Deputy Program Director, Behavioral Health
Allison Upton provides technical assistance to grantees and supports policy development and projects specializing in the intersection of criminal justice and behavioral health issues. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Allison worked at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) as the director of court programs, where she oversaw the court and community operations of several alternative-to-incarceration (ATI) and detention programs serving adults with behavioral health needs in New York County. While at CASES, she developed a gender-specific track of ATI services for women involved in the justice system and provided training on evidence-based practices in screening/assessment in justice settings, gender-responsive recidivism risk assessment, trauma-informed case management practices, and cognitive behavioral group interventions aimed at minimizing risk of recidivism. Allison previously worked as a staff psychologist in inpatient services at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center and as the director of an outpatient program at the Bronx Children’s Psychiatric Center. She received her BA from the University of Miami and her MS and PsyD in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University.
Senior Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
Katie Herman plays a key role in the Stepping Up initiative, mental health diversion, and other work at the intersection of justice, behavioral health, and homelessness. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, she worked at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES) in New York City for eight years. She was initially the court liaison social worker for the CASES Nathaniel ACT Team, the city’s first felony alternative to incarceration program for adults with serious mental illnesses. She then supervised their Criminal and Supreme Court Team. Katie received a BA in English from the University of San Diego and an MSW from the Columbia University School of Social Work.
Senior Policy Analyst, Behavioral Health
Marilyn Leake works on county-based initiatives focused on improving outcomes for people in the criminal justice system who have behavioral health disorders. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Marilyn served as the coordinator for the mental health and drug court programs in Prince George’s County, Maryland. In that role, she collaborated closely with local stakeholders throughout the criminal justice and behavioral health systems on diversion and other tactics to improve outcomes for people in the justice system with behavioral health disorders. She also worked on initiatives to standardize data collection and measurement strategies for treatment courts in Maryland. Marilyn holds a BS from Appalachian State University and an MSW from the University of Maryland.
Request Free Support
JMHCP offers free, tailored support to communities. Learn more about the opportunities available.