Partner News and Resources

March 13, 2020

A COVID-19 Update

Blog, Health Care, In the News

Dear Colleagues, With news and new cases of 2019 novel Coronavirus sweeping the nation and driving a state of panic, a few considerations come to mind for us at The Equitas Project. Now, more than ever, as remote work becomes the norm, h...

February 25, 2019

Equitas Executive Director Interviewed on Wrongful Conviction // Season 8 Episode 4 // Disentangling Mental Health & Criminal Justice

Corrections, Health Care, Policy & Culture Change, , , , , , , , , ,

In this compelling interview, Vincent Atchity and Kelly Grimes join Jason Flom for a candid discussion about the criminal justice system and how it fails to support Americans with mental health challenges.  Vincent Atchity has served as ...

August 6, 2018

Coordination and Communication are Key to Improving Mental Health and Criminal Justice in America

Blog, Childhood, Corrections, Data, Education, Employment, Health Care, Housing, In the News, Justice, Media Releases, Policy & Culture Change, Public Safety, Reentry

Mental health and criminal justice are a tangled mess in communities all across the country. Rather than supporting health from childhood through old age, our social systems show hardly any signs of understanding mental health at all. We...

May 24, 2018

A Criminal Past, an Unwritten Future

In the News

Their message to these young men was simple: “You may be locked up, but your mind can still be free.” Over time, what started as a book club transformed into a robust operation that supports D.C. men from the day they are arrested to...

May 24, 2018

Celebrities Highlight Mental Health Issues

In the News

As the stigma surrounding mental illness has declined in recent years, so has the reluctance many have had to discuss their own mental health issues, including celebrities. It’s become the new norm for stars to divulge vulnerabilities ...

April 15, 2018

How I Learned Not to Call 911

Public Safety

Every day, New Yorkers encounter so many mentally ill people, whether on the street or in their own buildings. The most recent data for New York shows that some 95,000 New Yorkers with serious mental illnesses, including bipolar disord...

April 11, 2018



Their message to these young men was simple: “You may be locked up, but your mind can still be free.” Over time, what started as a book club transformed into a robust operation that supports D.C. men from the day they are arrested to...

April 10, 2018

Why Jail is No Place for the Mentally Troubled


In a discussion with The Crime Report about her new book, “Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness,” Alisa Roth, a former Soros Justice Fellow, describes how jails and prisons have become the nation’s principal ins...

March 15, 2018

Commentary: The Recidivism Trap


Recidivism is the reoccurrence of crime among people known to have committed crimes before. At all levels of justice, from local probation offices to the U.S. Bureau of Prisons, if we judge the impact of interventions at all, we do so in...

March 12, 2018

The Burden of Mental Illness Behind Bars


Today, about 14.5 percent of men and 31 percent of women in jails have a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, major depression, or bipolar disorder, compared to 3.2 and 4.9 percent, respectively, in the general population. Whil...

March 7, 2018

Opinion: Turn Prisons Into Colleges


While racial disparities in arrests and convictions are alarming, education level is a far stronger predictor of future incarceration than race. Today, only a third of all prisons provide ways for incarcerated people to continue their ed...

February 27, 2018

Mental Health Courts and Sentencing Disparities


Despite the proliferation of mental health courts across the United States, virtually no attention has been paid to the criminal justice effects these courts carry for participants. This article provides the first empirical analysis of d...

January 19, 2018

Redemption for Offenders and Victims


OFTEN, RESTORATIVE JUSTICE is an adjunct to the criminal justice system or occurs years after that process has concluded. But it can also be a stand-alone alternative. There are few pre-determined expectations other than open-minded and...

January 11, 2018

Measuring Up on Mental Health?

Health Care

How are we doing on goals to reduce mental health disparities and improve outcomes in the federal government’s Healthy People 2020 goal? “We have seen some gains in the expansion of mental health treatment in recent years.” But, “despite...

January 9, 2018

Our Journey Home (Official Trailer)

Health Care

Housing is the foundation on which we build our lives. As a country, we have had an unstable relationship with public and affordable housing. Housing people affordably is key to helping communities foster citizens who are healthy and eng...

January 3, 2018

The Court of a Million Chances


Mental health courts, rather than a broad solution to the general problem, are best used when considering the diversion of a small percentage of that target population. However, even that small percentage can fall through the cracks with...

November 13, 2017

Sheriffs Lead the Way

Public Safety

Though “the system” hasn’t kept up with addressing the growing social responsibilities put on law enforcement, sheriff’s offices and police departments are not alone in recognizing that there is a problem. The National Sheriffs’ Associat...

October 24, 2017

In Defense of Risk-Assessment Tools


It may seem weird to rely on an impersonal algorithm to predict a person’s behavior given the enormous stakes. But the gravity of the outcome—in cost, crime, and wasted human potential—is exactly why we should use an algorithm. Read...

September 15, 2017

Want less crime? Put fewer people in jail


Recent studies show that even short stays in jail can spur a significant increase in a person’s likelihood to reoffend, while longer detentions correlate with even greater odds of recidivism. Overall crime rates are lower than they...

August 23, 2017



America’s justice system runs on the exchange of money for freedom. Some say that’s unfair. But can data fix it? A 2013 report commissioned by the Drug Policy Alliance found 38 percent of inmates in New Jersey jails were there solely...

August 22, 2017

How to End Mass Incarceration


We see no emergent institutions on the horizon today that might render prisons a thing of the past. What we see instead are examples of criminal justice systems that have continued reforming, modulating, humanizing, shrinking, and decent...

July 28, 2017



  Download this one-pager. Stay tuned for our one-pager on Childhood Resilience!   For more on Resilience, Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and more, see the resources below:   On building resilience:

July 24, 2017

YSF: Minority Mental Health Month

Health Care

Minority Mental Health Month Mental illness does not discriminate. It affects millions across the United States regardless of race, sexuality, or upbringing – impacting every aspect of their lives. But still, 80% of African Americans and...

July 21, 2017

Nine Lessons About Criminal Justice Reform


Every year about 650,000 of those prisoners are released back into the world. We know that most of them will be unemployed a year later, and that two-thirds of them will be rearrested within three years. We have a corrections system that...

July 19, 2017

‘The Nearly Perfect Recidivism Machine’


There is nothing about punishment that changes the underlying conditions, disorders and deficits that the majority of criminal offenders bring into the justice system. What we have accomplished is a nearly perfect recidivism machine,...

July 12, 2017

It’s time to refocus the punishment paradigm


By shifting the emphasis from retribution to rewards, we can make a greater impact on inmate behavior. We’ll not only help adults in the criminal justice system minimize their offending; we’ll strengthen their resolve to successfully...

June 13, 2017

Vera Institute: Out of Sight

Policy & Culture Change

his report explores one of the Incarceration Trends project’s most startling revelations—that the main drivers of mass incarceration are small and rural counties, not major cities. Vera’s research identified two drivers of this trend:...

May 10, 2017

Lessons From Rikers Island

In the News

Jails like Rikers—and the broken systems of which they are part—perpetuate inequality and injustice. The jail is a microcosm of everything wrong with America’s criminal-justice system—but may also offer a model for how it can be...

April 17, 2017

Film: God Knows Where I Am

Policy & Culture Change

God Knows Where I Am—beautiful, haunting and supremely moving—is one of the most powerful documentary films I have seen on America’s flawed approach to mental health and homelessness. Essential viewing for anyone seeking to underst...

April 10, 2017

The Prison-Health Paradox

Policy & Culture Change

Paradoxically, going to prison can actually improve health—at least temporarily—for some inmates. Black male inmates, the authors write, have a lower mortality rate than similarly aged black men who aren’t in jail. Read the full...

March 30, 2017

When Warriors Put on the Badge

Public Safety

Even as departments around the country have attempted a cultural transformation from “warriors” to “guardians,” one in five police officers is literally a warrior, returned from Afghanistan, Iraq or other assignments. Attracting...

March 14, 2017

My Damn Mind (This American Life)

Public Safety

The brain! It’s powerful! Two stories of the brain working for and against its owners. A staffer at St Joseph Medical Center in Houston finds a patient shot on the floor of his room. He is unarmed, and has been shot by the cops in the ho...

January 27, 2017

Update On NAMI Petition

In the News

An Internet petition asking NAMI to focus more of its programs and lobbying efforts on behalf of the 4 % of individuals with serious mental illnesses has garnered more than 550 signatures. The petition signers, many of whom are long time...

January 5, 2017

Drug companies prey on children

Policy & Culture Change

One out of 13 American children between the ages of 6 and 17 has taken a psychotropic medication within the last six months, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Meanwhile, youth suicide rates are at their peak going back at lea...

December 4, 2016

An Incubator for (Former) Drug Dealers


“Hustlers are entrepreneurs denied opportunity” Defy ventures, a non-profit teaching entrepreneurship to the formerly incarcerated, based out of New York, boasts a 3% recidivism rate, 72% lower than the national average. TRAP House in...

June 13, 2016

Incarceration, crime fall


A new research study from the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law finds that in 27 states that have decreased their prison populations, crime also has decreased. Read the full article here....

June 3, 2016

Our Awful Prisons: How They Can Be Changed


In 1950, Finland had a higher incarceration rate than we had in the US. Today, the US has the world’s highest incarceration rates. “One important idea that emerged,” write two scholars of Finland’s changes, “was that prison cures...

April 29, 2016


Policy & Culture Change

In Florida prisons, mentally ill inmates have been tortured, driven to suicide, and killed by guards. Shortly after Harriet Krzykowski began working at the Dade Correctional Institution, in Florida, an inmate whispered to her, “You kno...

February 9, 2016

When Addiction Has a White Face

In the News

WHEN crack hit America in the mid-1980s, for African-Americans, to borrow from Ta-Nehisi Coates, civilization fell. Crack embodied instant and fatal addiction; we saw endless images of thin, ravaged bodies, always black, as though from...

February 8, 2016

The Most Promising Reform

In the News

Many years ago, I was a criminal defense and civil rights lawyer in Minneapolis. One day, a young woman named Rebecca came into my office. She was a student at William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. She and my law clerk were friend...

February 8, 2016

Opening Up About Depression

In the News

I have slogged through a number of difficult situations in recent months, among them the ongoing crises of my elderly parents’ illnesses and the suicide of a friend. I never lost my appetite nor burst into tears, and I didn’t suffer ...

February 2, 2016

Cold Turkey: New Hampshire’s Prison Detox

In the News

The United States is dealing with a major public health crisis. Over the last decade, heroin-related overdose deaths have nearly quadrupled. The epicenter of this epidemic is New Hampshire, with the highest rate of young adults abusing o...

January 5, 2016

Prisons Have Become America’s New Asylums

In the News

America’s prisons have become warehouses for the severely mentally ill. Under the guise of punishing criminality, these inmates may be subject to cruelty from corrections staff, physical constraint up to and including lockdown or solit...

December 2, 2015

New York Disarms the “Mentally Ill”

In the News

Why mental health experts are up in arms. The proposition that a person who is mentally ill and dangerous should not be permitted to possess a firearm seems incontrovertible. But putting that proposition into practice is controversial, a...

November 10, 2015

Fighting the “After-War”

In the News

The nearly two million American military men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan put themselves in harm’s way daily in order to serve their country. Nearly 7,000 have died in those wars. Another 52,000 have been wounded i...

November 6, 2015

Where Homeless Meets Crazy

In the News

IN every corner of the world, there are people who are flagrantly ill, people who mutter to invisible others and box at the air. But because the cultural texture is different in different settings, the experience of madness can be quite ...

November 3, 2015

Small Towns Face Rising Suicide Rates

In the News

LARAMIE, WYO. — After her family moved from suburban New Hampshire to the wind-whipped plains of southeastern Wyoming, Monica Morin embraced small-town life, forging lasting friendships and celebrating her own quirky style. To read the...

October 20, 2015

New Approach Advised to Treat Schizophrenia

In the News

More than two million people in the United States have a diagnosis of schizophrenia, and the treatment for most of them mainly involves strong doses of antipsychotic drugs that blunt hallucinations and delusions but can come with unbeara...

October 11, 2015

The Chains of Mental Illness in West Africa

In the News

KPOVÉ, Togo — The church grounds here sprawled through a strange, dreamlike forest. More than 150 men and women were chained by the ankle to a tree or concrete block, a short walk from the central place of worship. Most were experienc...

October 11, 2015

In West Africa, a Mission to Save Minds

In the News

SANDEMA, Ghana — For more than a year, Rebecca Ajadogbil had been living alone in her head, convinced that strange men were coming to capture and murder her. Confined to a room in her family’s mud-walled compound here, not far from t...

October 8, 2015

Gun Deaths Are Mostly Suicides

In the News

When Americans think about deaths from guns, we tend to focus on homicides. But the problem of gun suicide is inescapable: More than 60 percent of people in this country who die from guns die by suicide. To read the full original...

October 7, 2015

A Criminal Mind

In the News

For 40 years, Joel Dreyer was a respected psychiatrist who oversaw a clinic for troubled children, belonged to an exclusive country club, and doted on his four daughters and nine grandchildren. Then, suddenly, he became a major drug...

July 27, 2015

Executing “Idiots”

In the News

At the end of its term, the Supreme Court revealed its deep divisions over the death penalty. In Glossip v. Gross, the central issue was the constitutionality of a particular drug that Oklahoma used in its lethal injections. However, the...

July 17, 2015

Mayor De Blasio: Tear Down This Jail!

In the News

Want to fix Rikers?  Close it. by Neil Barsky A casual reader of the news these days might conclude that there is real hope for Rikers Island, New York’s cesspool of a jail complex, located swimming distance from LaGuardia Airport in...

July 3, 2015

Putting Fewer Innocents Behind Bars


Kalief Browder hanged himself last month. He was 22. You may well know of him; he was 16 when he was arrested in the Bronx for allegedly stealing a backpack. Three years later, the charges were dropped for lack of evidence, but Browder ...

June 26, 2015

Judges Replacing Conjecture With Formula for Bail


Setting bail is a difficult task for judges. They must try to foretell whether the defendant is likely to commit another crime, hurt someone or skip out on the next court date. Now comes help in a distinctly modern form: an algorithm. Af...

June 7, 2015

Kalief Browder, 1993-2015

In the News

Last fall, I wrote about a young man named Kalief Browder, who spent three years on Rikers Island without being convicted of a crime. He had been arrested in the spring of 2010, at age sixteen, for a robbery he insisted he had not commit...

May 18, 2015

How America Overdosed on Drug Courts

In the News

Hailed as the most compassionate way for the criminal justice system to deal with addicts, drug courts were designed to balance punishment with rehabilitation. But after 25 years, the verdict is in: Drug courts embolden judges to practic...

May 12, 2015

Adding Pepper Spray to the Prison Arsenal

In the News

This March, most federal correctional officers started carrying pepper spray. It was a big policy shift for the Bureau of Prisons, which had long been opposed to arming its employees, saying weapons could be taken by inmates and used aga...

May 1, 2015

Sounds of Silence from Inside the Jail

In the News

Long before we make our entrance into the world we can feel; the tactile sense is our first sensory experience. We shift our barely formed bodies away from uncomfortable stimuli in a self-protective, reflexive manner. We are programmed t...

April 24, 2015

By Reason of Insanity

In the News

Mental illness defenses in criminal trials have been controversial since the first acquittal. How does the law define madness? On June 25, 2012, James Eagan Holmes emailed Glenn Rotkovich, the owner of the Lead Valley shooting range in B...

April 9, 2015

Fighting Mental Illness on the Ball Field

In the News

Mental illness remains highly stigmatized, even after celebrities like Brooke Shields, Mel Gibson and Robin Williams went public with their stories. So it was really a big deal 60 years ago when the Boston Red Sox outfielder Jimmy Piersa...

April 6, 2015

The Social Worker in the Patrol Car

Public Safety

At the Houston Police Department, a licensed clinical social worker or caseworker rides along when police answer an emergency call regarding a person presumed to be mentally ill. Some 30 of those ride-along professionals now work out of ...

March 26, 2015

Inside America’s Toughest Federal Prison

In the News

In prison, Rodney Jones told me, everyone had a nickname. Jones’s was Saint E’s, short for St. Elizabeths, the federal psychiatric hospital in Washington, best known for housing John Hinckley Jr. after he shot Ronald Reagan. Jones sp...

March 24, 2015

A Persian in Therapy

In the News

My people don’t do psychotherapy. We have friends. We have families. We have pharmacies. Paying strangers to listen to our problems isn’t our style. To read the full original article, click here....

March 12, 2015

The Survival Cycle

In the News

In the spring of 2013, the Lane County Sheriff’s Office began to give a persuasive reason for putting people behind bars: to keep the dangerous ones away from the public. To read the full original article, click here....

February 26, 2015

Stop Placing the Mentally Ill in Jails


One reason annual jail admissions nearly doubled between 1983 and 2013 to 11.7 million, while crime dropped, is that jails have become the provider of last resort for people with mental health issues. To read the full original article,...

February 18, 2015

The Modern Asylum

In the News

Last month, three ethicists from the University of Pennsylvania argued in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the movement to deinstitutionalize the mentally ill has been a failure. Deinstitutionalization, they wrote, ha...

February 2, 2015

Voices From Inside

In the News

Sedlis Dowdy, a diagnosed schizophrenic, spent nine years in solitary confinement. He gets out of prison in five. What will we do with him then? To read the full original article and listen to the audio, click here....

January 21, 2015

Fixing Rikers Island

In the News

New York City jails can be fixed. It will take time. It will take money. And the recent investments announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio and the changes requested of the city’s Board of Correction are only a beginning. To read the full...

January 17, 2015

Redefining Mental Illness

In the News

TWO months ago, the British Psychological Society released a remarkable document entitled “Understanding Psychosis and Schizophrenia.” Its authors say that hearing voices and feeling paranoid are common experiences, and are often a r...

January 15, 2015

A Living Nightmare in America’s Paradise

In the News

Imagine being charged with a crime, going to trial, being found not guilty by reason of insanity, but remaining behind bars for years. You are denied access to a psychiatrist to treat your serious mental illness; you grow more acutely il...

January 12, 2015

Officers Charged with Murder

Public Safety

Declaring that “I have a job to do and I’m doing it,” District Attorney Kari Brandenburg said her office was filing murder charges against two Albuquerque police officers in the shooting of a mentally ill homeless camper in the San...

December 17, 2014

Handling, Not Manhandling, the Mentally Ill

In the News

A Close Look at the L.A. County Jail Settlement Los Angeles County’s ballyhooed settlement of a long-running lawsuit over the abuse and neglect of inmates in its jail isn’t just a big deal for California. The case, the compromise, an...

December 15, 2014

A Vet and his Demons

In the News

Adan Castañeda’s lawyer is worried what a jury will think of his client. Castañeda, a 28-year-old former marine sniper whose mental illness bloomed after his return from Iraq, goes on trial January 20. “The evidence that’s admiss...

December 3, 2014

New York Explains Itself

Policy & Culture Change

New York City officials late Monday announced plans to significantly change the way police, medical workers, and prosecutors handle the thousands of mentally ill and drug-addicted people who cycle in and out of the area’s...

December 2, 2014

Therapists in Blue

Public Safety

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday a plan to overhaul how the city’s criminal justice system handles the mentally ill, more than 5,000 of whom are currently housed in city jails. The plan would create two “drop-of...

November 26, 2014

Mass Imprisonment and Public Health

In the News

When public health authorities talk about an epidemic, they are referring to a disease that can spread rapidly throughout a population, like the flu or tuberculosis. But researchers are increasingly finding the term useful in understandi...

November 26, 2014

Crazy or Faking It?

In the News

Nearly 30 years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that mentally ill inmates could not be executed for their crimes unless they were deemed “competent,” a condition that remained vaguely defined for more than two decades. The court tr...

November 23, 2014

Will Texas Kill an Insane Man?

In the News

On Dec. 3, Texas plans to execute an inmate named Scott Panetti, who was convicted in 1995 for murdering his in-laws with a hunting rifle. There is no question that Mr. Panetti committed the murders. There is also no question that he...