RD68 - Evaluation of the Jail Mental Health Pilot Programs – December 2020

Executive Summary:

This report evaluates the activities of Virginia’s Jail Mental Health Pilot Program during FY2020 (July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020). It is the fourth in a series of evaluation reports on the pilot program produced by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) since the pilot program began in January 2017.

The pilot program was established by the 2016 Appropriations Act (2016 Virginia Acts of Assembly, Chapter 780, Item 398 J.1–6). The Act directed DCJS to establish pilot programs to provide services to mentally ill jail inmates, and evaluate the implementation and effectiveness of the pilot programs.

In response to the Appropriations Act, DCJS awarded grants to six jails to develop and implement pilot programs to provide services to mentally ill inmates, or to provide pre-incarceration crisis intervention services to prevent mentally ill offenders from entering jails. The grants required the participating programs to propose actions to address the following minimum conditions and criteria:

1. Use of mental health screening and assessment instruments designated by the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services;

2. Provision of services to all mentally ill inmates in the designated pilot program, whether state or local responsible;

3. Use of a collaborative partnership among local agencies and officials, including community services boards, local community corrections and pre-trial services agencies, local law enforcement agencies, attorneys for the Commonwealth, public defenders, courts, non-profit organizations, and other stakeholders;

4. Establishment of a crisis intervention team or plans to establish such a team;

5. Training for jail staff in working with mentally ill inmates;

6. Provision of a continuum of services;

7. Use of evidence-based programs and services;

8. Funding necessary to provide services including, but not limited to: mental health treatment services, behavioral health services, case managers to provide discharge planning for individuals, reentry services, and transportation services;

9. Use the grant funding to supplement, not supplant, existing local spending on these services.

The 2019 Appropriations Act (Item 395 J.1–3) further continued the Jail Mental Health Pilot Program by appropriating $2,500,000 the first year and $2,500,000 for the second year. The 2019 Act added several new reporting requirements on program activities, including the following: 3. The Department shall collect on a quarterly basis qualitative and quantitative data of pilot site performance, to include: (i) mental health screenings and assessments provided to inmates, (ii) mental health treatment plans and services provided to inmates, (iii) jail safety incidents involving inmates and jail staff, (iv) the provision of appropriate services after release, (v) the number of inmates re-arrested or re-incarcerated within 90 days after release following a positive identification for mental health disorders in jail or the receipt of mental health treatment within the facility. The Department shall provide a report on its findings to the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance Committees no later than October 15th each year.

This fourth evaluation report on the Jail Mental Health Pilot Project is submitted by DCJS in response to the above 2019 Appropriations Act language.