Project Overview

The Superior Court of Fulton County was awarded a $250,000 planning grant by the U.S. Department of Justice/Bureau of Justice Assistance and was one of six sites nationwide selected for the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program. Through grant funding support, Superior Court will convene the Fulton County Justice and Mental Health Task Force to collaboratively develop a systems-level, data-driven action plan that will lead to a measurable reduction in the number of people with mental illness in jail. The Fulton County Justice and Mental Health Task Force seeks to increase public safety through the improved collaboration among criminal justice stakeholders, mental health and substance abuse treatment providers, and the Atlanta community. 

The project activities align with the strategies of the Stepping Up Initiative, a national effort spearheaded by the American Psychiatric Foundation, National Association of Counties, and Council of State Governments Justice Center. The task force goals and all action plan development activities will focus on the four key measures promoted by Stepping Up.

Stepping Up-Four Key Measures

  1. Reduce the number of people with mental illness booked into jail
  2. Shorten the average length of stay for people with mental illness in jails
  3. Increase the percentage of connection to care for people with mental illness in jail
  4. Lower the rates of recidivism

The task force is divided into five work groups that meet monthly to move the project forward. Work groups are based on community priorities established in the Sequential Intercept Mapping workshop that took place at the Georgia State College of Law on April 25-26, 2017. Work groups are responsible to assess the current system, build consensus around opportunities for reform, gather data and develop formal recommendations for the Task Force to review and prioritize. Work groups also determined if there are elements in place to implement evidence–based practices that address the needs of people with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system and developed strategies for building more support for these practices and programs. 

The Carl Vinson Institute of Government is providing technical assistance to Fulton County Superior Court and its partners to help document how individuals with mental disorders move through the local justice system, collect system-wide data, project evaluation and meeting coordination and facilitation. The Policy Research Associates provided technical assistance through a two-day Sequential Intercept Mapping Workshop on April 25-26, 2017. The Council for State Governments Justice Center provides technical assistance through links to national resources, monthly calls and expert recommendations to ensure the project is a success.