Criminal Justice


Discussions of the particular problems facing individuals with both mental illnesses and criminal justice involvement, with a particular emphasis on strategies to support those individuals in reestablishing meaningful family and employment ties to their communities upon release.

Returning to the Community: Reentry Barriers following Incarceration among Individuals with Serious Mental Illnesses

Reintegration of individuals with mental illnesses into everyday community life following incarceration is a major issue affecting every municipality and state around the country. The Temple University Collaborative was asked by Philadelphia City Council to provide suggestions for how this complex and urgent issue could best be addressed. Key stakeholders in the field were identified, including individuals with mental health conditions who had left jails and prisons, and asked to offer their opinions about the most significant barriers during the reentry transition. Information from these conversations led to a city council investigatory hearing on the issue.  These activities resulted in thirteen recommendations that are briefly described in this document. The intention of this document is to share these recommendations with others as well as describe a process that could be used in other cities and states to identify similar recommendations that meet local circumstances and that raise the importance of community reentry and inclusion in the eyes of local governments.


Forensic Peer Specialists: An Emerging Workforce

Forensic Peer Specialists are part of an emerging workforce comprised of individuals with a history of mental illnesses and incarceration who have achieved a reasonable degree of stability in their own lives and are now employed by local government and non-profit agencies to provide individualized support to others with both psychiatric disabilities and criminal justice involvements. However, since the field is new, qualifications and responsibilities are defined variously from site to site. This policy brief, based on an informal national environmental scan with forensic peer specialist programs across the county in 2011, seeks to define what we know at present about this new workforce and to establish a research agenda for the future.


Reentry and Renewal

Reentry and Renewal: A review of peer-run organizations that serve individuals with behavioral health conditions and criminal justice involvement is a joint project of the College for Behavioral Health Leadership’s Peer Leader Interest Group, the National Mental Health Consumers’ Self-Help Clearinghouse, Mental Health America, and the Temple University Collaborative on Community Inclusion. Based on responses to a recent national survey, Reentry and Renewal highlights a dozen exemplary peer-run programs that serve individuals with both behavioral health conditions and criminal justice backgrounds. It not only provides recommendations for peer-run programs to improve upon effective supports for individuals with behavioral health conditions, but also spotlights needed policy change and the importance of expanded funding and research.