First Appearance



States Work to Reduce the Number of People With Mental Illness Who Become Justice-Involved

Individuals with mental illness are often arrested for behavior associated with their disability, including administrative offenses and non-violent “qualify of life” offenses. The overrepresentation of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system is also tied to reports of significant increases in the number of those identified as needing to undergo a competency evaluation. Learn more about what states and counties are doing to address these issues.

The Cache

In the News

  • The Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office recently released a publicly available dashboard. This new tool, funded through a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge, provides monthly updates on key indicators of how the justice system in the county is functioning. The San Francisco district attorney runs a similar dashboard here.
  • Dallas County commissioners approved new funding to establish a diversion center for people with mental illness who are arrested on specified charges. The county’s local jail is the second-largest mental health facility in the state. The new diversion plan is modeled after one in Houston, which has already diverted 3,000 cases in the last two years, reducing jail bookings by 50% and avoiding about $18 million in criminal justice costs.
  • New York City issued more than 100,000 arrest warrants in 2015 for people who skipped court after being issued a criminal summons. Rates of failure to appear dropped by 13% after the city worked with a behavioral design expert to redesign the summons to emphasize where people needed to be when, and clearly highlight the consequences for nonappearance.