Equitas Hosts Two Regional Summits on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice

“You wouldn’t take a car to a dentist to get fixed. Why would you use a jail for mental health treatment?” asked Fairfax County Sheriff Stacey Kincaid during Equitas’ Mid-Atlantic Summit.

April 4, 2017 – (DENVER, COLO.) – March was a busy month for Equitas, as the organization hosted summits in both Indianapolis, Ind., and Washington, D.C., that brought together more than 300 experts, advocates, and stakeholders in the criminal justice and behavioral health fields. The goal? To successfully manage community and behavioral health, reduce incarceration, and promote public safety and prosperity.

 

Course Corrections: Mid-Atlantic Summit on Behavioral Health & Criminal Justice
On March 22 and 23 in Washington, D.C., Sheriff Tom Dart from Cook County, Illinois, shared his observations and troubling statistics on incarceration of mentally ill people in both Chicago and in Washington, D.C., at Course Corrections: Mid-Atlantic Summit on Behavioral Health & Criminal Justice. The Summit, hosted by Equitas, convened a collection of national and local organizations working toward a common goal of ensuring public safety, promoting the development of human potential, and responding more effectively and holistically to the needs of those with behavioral health concerns.

As Vincent Atchity, Executive Director of Equitas, framed it, we need to remember where we want to get to as a society and then make little adjustments, or course corrections, to get there. “Little tweaks can cue ripple effects,” he said.

To identify those “little tweaks,” stakeholders, throughout the Summit, identified their top priorities, strategies toward realizing those goals, partners to recruit, and timelines for action. Now, over the course of the next several weeks, Equitas and Course Corrections: Mid-Atlantic Summit participants will produce a document laying out these necessary adjustments to help Mid-Atlantic communities refocus attention on the root contributors to the status quo and define next steps toward their shared goals.

 

14th Annual Mental Health and Criminal Justice Summit
On March 10, Equitas co-hosted NAMI Indiana’s 14th Annual Mental Health and Criminal Justice Summit: Course Corrections in Indianapolis. Keynote Speaker, Dr. Mark Munetz of Ohio’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence, discussed the evolution of the Sequential Intercept Model—an evidence-based practice which identifies opportunities to divert people with mental illness away from the criminal justice system. Additionally, Keynote Speaker, David Kaczynksi, brother of the so-called Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, recounted the harrowing journey he and his family endured before, during, and after his brother’s descent into mental illness and serial murder. David’s story, which is captured in his book, Every Last Tie, reveals how it is possible to identify sympathetically with families whose lives are altered forever by the onset of severe mental illness in a loved one.

Throughout the Summit, advocates, including law enforcement and state legislators, discussed topics ranging from severe mental illness and the death penalty, to mental health crisis response, to autism and behavioral interventions in schools.

 

Upcoming Event
Equitas will host Course Corrections: Jefferson County Summit on Behavioral Health & Criminal Justice at the Jefferson County Fair Grounds on June 5.

 

About Equitas
Equitas focuses collective problem-solving energy on managing mental and behavioral health challenges, and other challenges stemming from hidden disabilities and disadvantages in order to bring about a healthier, equitable, and sustainably prosperous nation. Equitas support efforts that ensure society is not defaulting to mass incarceration. For more information, visit www.equitasusa.org.

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