Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has announced that his office is awarding National Association on Mental Illness, Ohio (NAMI) with a $125,000 grant.
The grant will be used to increase the number Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) trained law enforcement officers, produce a documentary on the intersection of mental illness and the criminal justice system, and develop a roadmap to decrease the revolving door for individuals with serious mental illness cycling in and out of the criminal justice system.
“I am pleased to provide these funds to expand this important training that helps law enforcement interact with people with mental illness who are in crisis,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “Helping NAMI Ohio expand the reach of this program to de-escalate crisis situations and better understand how the mental health and criminal justice systems interact will help us as we plan for the future.”
“I cannot thank the Attorney General enough for recognizing the need of many Ohio citizens suffering with mental illness,” said Terry Russell, Executive Director of NAMI Ohio.
The grant funds will be spent as follows:
$75,000 of the funds will be used to further CIT goals to increase the number of CIT-trained law enforcement officers. In addition, two statewide CIT coordinators meetings will be held, as well as a statewide CIT Advanced Training Conference with 125 to 150 participants from throughout Ohio.
$20,000 will be used to produce a documentary to interview individuals with serious mental illness who have had contact with the criminal justice system. Family members will also be interviewed to learn from their unique perspective of the criminal justice system and its needs. Additional interviews will include law enforcement, judges and case managers.
$30,000 will be used to study points of entry into the criminal justice system and the interventions that could be made to break the repeating cycle of entry.
It has been more than 25 years since the Mental Health Act of Ohio made sweeping reforms to our mental health system. Following the officer-involved shooting death of Paul E. Schenck last year in Yellow Springs, DeWine called for an independent study of the state’s mental health system. This part of the grant funding will serve as a first step in the review process.
Results from the grant projects will be presented to the Attorney General’s Task Force on Criminal Justice and Mental Illness, at regional forums throughout Ohio, and to state-level decision makers as a tool for policy and funding decisions.
The funding for the grant comes as part of a 2011 bankruptcy discharge with Richland Hospital in Mansfield. Richland Hospital was a psychiatric hospital established in 1947 as a non-profit corporation for charitable hospital purposes. The hospital ceased operations in 2000. The discharge called for the money from the sale of the hospital to be used by the Attorney General's Office for charitable purposes.