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Crisis Intervention Teams: An Effective Response to Mental Illness in Corrections [Satellite/Internet Broadcast]

Our nation’s jails, prisons, and community corrections agencies are confronted daily with substantial numbers of persons with mental illness in custody and under supervision. Mental illness in corrections demands an urgency of response, services, and care. Correctional staff have attempted to manage individuals suffering mental illness with varying degrees of success. In searching for meaningful methods of response, some agencies, in partnership with stakeholder communities, have implemented Crisis Intervention Teams (CITs).

CITs have matured from a law enforcement first responder model to new community partnerships with corrections. This team approach incorporates community, frontline law enforcement, and corrections agencies in a collaborative effort to address this growing problem. CITs are effective in enhancing correctional staffs’ knowledge and skills, aiding administrators in improved management and care for a special population, reducing liability and cost, improving community partnerships for increased access to resources and supports, and increasing safety for all.

Participants will be able to:

  1. Describe the core elements of CIT.
  2. Describe the benefits of CIT for correctional staff, community stakeholders, persons with mental illnesses, and local criminal justice and mental health agencies.
  3. Identify ways to sustain a systemwide CIT program supported by key stakeholders and active community involvement.
  4. Assess agency readiness to start a CIT program and identify resources for implementation.

Watch the Introduction

This segment introduces the scope and impact of mental illness in the criminal justice system, as well as the basic objectives of Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT),The segment concludes with brief introductions from the professionals that will be presenting during the broadcast.

Segment 1

In this segment perspectives from corrections professionals and the challenges they face, as well as perspectives from individuals with metal illness and the frustrations they face, are presented. Some of the issues that arise when corrections and law enforcement professionals encounter the mentally ill, but are not prepared or properly trained to handle situations, are identified and the importance of proper training, knowledge, and tools that can help these professionals de-escalate situations and handles crisis is discussed.

Segment 2

This segment explains how CIT training is a multi-pronged approach which includes partnering with community-based services and training officers on specific communication protocols that can de-escalates situations. It also presents the core elements or pillars of CIT and provides examples of training for understanding mental illness, and it illustrates how de-escalation can be infectious.

Segment 3

This segment of the broadcast includes a 15 minute Q & A section where participants from around the country call in with questions and comments about their experience with CIT programs. Topics from the session include, but are not limited to: decrease in use of force and injury, staffing and budget concerns for smaller agencies, triage facilities, and blended training.

Segment 4

This segment of the broadcast presents the various benefits of CIT, for both corrections staff and people with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system. Some of the benefits of CIT include, but are not limited to: hope, increased morale, appropriate/decreased use of force, increased safety, increased proessionalism, diagnosis and treatment, and more. There are multiple small video clips from various speakers providing their perspectives of the topic.

Segment 5

This is the final segment of the broadcast. The six steps to implement a CIT program are discussed. They are:

  1. know the need and focus on the problem,
  2. communicate a shift in practice,
  3. obtain buy-in,
  4. secure resources,
  5. develop a powerful guiding coalition, and
  6. create support and remove obstacles.

This is followed by suggestions for additional resources and training related to CIT, as well as a list of professional organizations related to crisis intervention, criminal justice, and mental health.