Supporting the Nation's Judicial System & the Public it Serves

January 1, 2023

National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts’ Response to Mental Illness

On March 30, 2020, the Boards of Directors of the Conference of Chief Justices and Conference of State Court Administrators took action to establish National Judicial Task Force to Examine State Courts Response to Mental Illness to assist state courts in their efforts to more effectively respond to the needs of court-involved individuals with serious mental illness.

Led by an Executive Committee, joined by 40 additional judges, court, and behavioral health experts, and funded by the State Justice Institute, the Task Force has engaged in research, developed tools and resources, delivered training, education, and technical assistance, and developed best practice and policy recommendations for courts and communities.

In October 2022, the Task Force released its Final Report and Recommendations to be used by state and local court leaders in their efforts to examine and address the changes that are needed. The report, endorsed by CCJ and COSCA, details the following recommendations for state court leaders:

  • Convene justice and behavioral health system partners to identify opportunities to collaboratively improve responses to individuals with behavioral health disorders.
  • Promote processes to identify and divert individuals with behavioral health disorders at every stage of system involvement towards treatment and away from further penetration into the criminal justice system.
  • Examine current case management and calendaring practices and implement strategies to more quickly and effectively address issues presented in cases involving individuals with behavioral health needs.

“The Final Report and Recommendations for change call for action by all state and local court leaders, behavioral health and community partners, and other state and federal agencies as we work together and more effectively to meet the needs of justice- involved individuals with serious mental illness.”

-Vermont Chief Justice Paul Reiber, Task Force Co-chair