About the Continuum Diagram

About the Continuum Diagram – The continuum diagram represents the sequence of events that may occur for individuals with mental illnesses who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

This sequence of events also corresponds to the components of the criminal justice and mental health systems that can lead collaborative efforts to more efficiently and effectively respond to this population:

EventComponent of the criminal justice and mental health systemsColor on the diagram
ArrestLaw enforcementBlue
Pre-trial, adjudication, and sentencingCourts (mental health and non-speciality courts)Red
Incarceration and re-entryCorrections (jail, prison, and community)Yellow
Effective involvement with the mental health systemCommunity supportsGreen

Site visitors can use the diagram and the ideas it represents to quickly locate specific information on the site.

Content across six different types of information—programs, advocacy, statewide coordinating activities, research studies, media articles, and legislation—has been classified according to the four components of the criminal justice and mental health systems. 

Visitors can sort and filter this wealth of information according to these components throughout the site.

The diagram is more than a search and navigation tool: as a framework for discussing the issues that arise from the high numbers of people with mental illnesses in the criminal justice system and the responses to this problem, the diagram also promotes a common vocabulary among national organizations, funders, and practitioners within and across systems that often approach the issue from different perspectives.

Search by Profession

The components of the continuum diagram—law enforcement, courts, corrections, and community supports—represent more than the points of contact individuals with mental illness may encounter if they become involved in the criminal justice system.

They also represent the fields in which many professionals affected by this problem work:

  • Law Enforcement: police chiefs, sheriffs, officers, dispatchers, etc.
  • Courts: judges, court administrators, public defenders, prosecutors, pre-trial service providers, administrators, etc.
  • Corrections: state corrections directors, jail administrators, correctional mental health officials, parole board members, parole and probation officials, etc.
  • Community Supports: mental health treatment providers, state mental health directors, substance abuse treatment providers, housing officials, etc.

Rochester police create Crisis Intervention Team to help handle issues of mental illness

“New Hampshire’s status as one of six states without a single police unit to handle issues involving mental illness is set to end in the next few weeks when the Lilac City’s Crisis Intervention Team begins operating.”

A guide to implementing police-based diversion programs for people with mental illness

Reuland, M. (2004). TAPA Center for Jail Diversion.

Evaluating patrol officer performance under community policing: The Houston experience

Wycoff, M. A., & Oettmeier, T. N. (1993). Washington, D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, The National Institute of Justice.

Enhancing the success of police-based diversion programs for people with mental illness

Reuland, M., & Cheney J. (2005). National GAINS Center for People with Co-Occurring Disorders in the Justice System. Delmar, NY.

Crisis intervention strategies, 5th edition

James, R. K., & Gilliland, B. E. (2004). Wadsworth.

Community policing in a rural setting, 2nd ed.

Thurman, Q. C., & McGarrell, E.F. (2003). Anderson Publishing.

Designed to help small-town and rural police agencies define a community policing focus, the second edition reflects developments in the field of law enforcement.

911 dispatchers get much-needed training course

“A number of area law enforcement officers have been trained to deal with people in crisis on the street for about a year now. But the people who first interact with those in need – dispatchers answering 911 calls – had never before received any training. But on Wednesday that need was met when the Volunteers of America… held a class at the Alexandria Police Department for dispatchers from four area parishes…”

56 officers trained to deal with mentally ill

“Completion of the third Mahoning County Crisis Intervention Team training class brings to 56 the number of area law enforcement personnel who have received the specialized training in how to deal with mentally ill people.”

12 area officers complete crisis intervention training

“Twelve law enforcement officers have become the latest graduates of the Crisis Intervention Team training… The crisis training provides officers with safe ways to resolve psychiatric crisis situations that they face in the line of duty.”

1 in 3 police shootings involve unarmed people in Harris County, TX

Some of the toughest choices arise when officers encounter the mentally ill, some of whom wield weapons and are determined to attempt ‘suicide by cop.’

‘Jail diversion’ program OK’d

With more than 1,000 mentally ill inmates sitting in its jail, Cook County is pushing local law enforcement to overhaul the way it treats people with mental illness and dependence on drugs.

‘There’s a hole in the system’

A hole at the intersection of the mental health and justice systems has left a 69-year-old Daytona Beach man accused of threatening his wife languishing in jail, even though he has dementia.

$980,706 Grant set for mental- health plan

“Polk County is getting almost $1 million in state grant money to maintain its mental-health court and add new jail diversion programs for people diagnosed with mental illnesses.”

$250,000 launches Mental Health Court

‘The Mental Health Court addresses reality,’ [Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives] Hastert said. ‘People will get the counseling and treatment they need to be productive members of society.’

Drug courts as a partner in mental health and co-occurring substance use disorders diversion programs.

The National GAINS Center. (1999). Summer.

A Fatal Lapse for Victim of Torment

Some say Chadwick Shane Cochran, who battled mental and drug problems, belonged in a hospital, not the L.A. jail where he was killed.

A Death in the Box

A mentally ill young woman had died, and she had died in the most stressful and isolating place in the New York state prison system.

‘Incompetent’ languish in jail

But the state mental hospital, which holds up to 91 criminal defendants from courts in Hamilton, Clermont, Butler, Brown and Clinton counties, had no room.” That meant Berryman waited in jail until a bed opened.

Mental illness poses legal problems

“Despite well-publicized drives to shut state hospitals and send people into the community, Leifman said, chronically insufficient funding for community mental health programs re-institutionalizes many into jails.”

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