The Council of State Governments Justice Center provides practical, nonpartisan, research-driven strategies and tools to increase public safety and strengthen communities.
The CSG Justice Center comprises approximately 120 employees based in offices that span three time zones. Our professional backgrounds vary extensively, with decades of experience in law enforcement, community corrections, court administration, housing, mental health and addiction services, state prisons, local jails, juvenile justice, law, education, workforce development and victim advocacy.
Staff here have served governors, state legislators and members of Congress on both sides of the political spectrum. What bonds us together is a shared commitment to our mission, to a common set of values, and to the national, bipartisan Board of Directors that guides our work.
Link to key areas:
- Justice Reinvestment
- Law Enforcement
- Mental Health
- Substance Abuse
About the Mental Health Program
Individuals with mental illnesses are significantly overrepresented in corrections settings. Estimates of the prevalence of serious mental illness in jails and prisons are significantly higher than rates found in the general population. One study of over 20,000 adults in U.S. jails found that 17 percent of those entering facilities met the criteria for serious mental illness.[i] Similarly, a U.S. Justice Department study found that approximately 16 percent of adults in state corrections facilities met the criteria for a mental illness.[ii]
Since the release of the landmark Consensus Project Report in 2002, the Justice Center’s Mental Health Program has supported the implementation of practical, flexible criminal justice/mental health strategies through on-site technical assistance; the dissemination of information about programs, research, and policy developments in the field; and the continued development of data-driven policy recommendations.
In September 2012, the Justice Center published a groundbreaking white paper, “Adults with Behavioral Health Needs Under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery.” The paper was written in recognition of the increasingly urgent need for a strategic approach to addressing the growing number people with mental health and substance use disorders involved with the criminal justice system, as well as the impact their treatment has on public safety and health. Through the integration of the principles of criminogenic risk and behavioral health needs assessments, the framework helps to facilitate agency accountability, promote cross-systems coordination and collaboration, encourage individuals’ recovery, and promote safer communities.
[i] Steadman, Henry J., Fred C. Osher, Pamela Clark Robbins, Brian Case, and Steven Samuels, “Prevalence of Serious Mental Illness Among Jail Inmates,” Psychiatric Services 60, no. 6 (June 2009): 761–765.
[ii] Ditton, Paula, Mental Health and Treatment of Inmates andProbationers (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Bureau of Justice Statistics, 1999).
Mental Health Publications
The Justice Center, with the support of its funders and project partners, develops a range of practical, nonpartisan, and consensus-based publications– informed by available evidence–for policymakers, practitioners, and others involved in improving the response to people with mental illnesses involved in the criminal justice system.
Available Now! 50-State Data on Public Safety Workbooks
The CSG Justice Center produced 50 state-specific workbooks that contain more than 60 data visualizations showing historical trends and data comparisons related to crime, arrests, recidivism, and correctional populations, and provide policymakers with key questions to help identify opportunities to increase public safety. Top officials from every state contributed to the research effort that culminated in these workbooks, which were developed to provide a framework for discussions that took place at the 50-State Summit on Public Safety held in November 2017 in Washington, DC.