The Council on Mentally Ill Offenders (COMIO) is excited to announce the release of its 16th Annual Report to the legislature today. This report is published annually to provide subject matter expertise to the administration, the legislature, and external stakeholders and inform policy development. Since 2001 the Council on Mentally Ill Offenders (COMIO), a 12-member Council chaired by the Secretary of the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR), has been engaged in efforts to promote early intervention, access to effective treatments, planned re-entry and the preservation of public safety, to end the criminalization of individuals with mental illness.

The 2017 COMIO Annual Report examines behavioral health care and the justice-involved, including current promising programs to prevent incarceration and effectively expand the workforce in a cost-effective way. The report discusses the following topics:

  1. Behavioral health care and the justice-involved
    • California reforms to the criminal justice system have made behavioral health services a public safety issue
    • Health care reform provides enhanced behavioral health services and supports public safety
    • What can be done to maximize the benefit of behavioral health care for the justice-involved
    • California’s opportunity to design what works for the justice-involved with significant behavioral health challenges
  2. Building the capacity of the behavioral health workforce to reduce the incarceration of individuals with behavioral health challenges
  3. California counties and promising programs to prevent incarceration

Findings and recommendations from the 16th Annual Report were presented on November 7, 2017, at COMIO’s legislative briefing at the State Capitol. At the legislative briefing, COMIO also presented the 2017 Best Practices Award to the Transitions Clinic Network (TCN) and recognized promising programs from Fresno, Orange, Riverside, San Luis Obispo, San Mateo, and Santa Clara counties. TCN was selected for the COMIO 2017 Best Practices Award because their model of service delivery demonstrates collaborative working relationships with community-based organizations, health, and correctional partners that serve individuals who have been incarcerated, commitment to evidence-based practices, monitoring fidelity and measuring outcomes, and dissemination of lessons learned through publications. TCN provides transitional and primary care and case management services. The TCN model uses physicians who have worked with this population and trains and employs formerly incarcerated individuals as community health workers to provide expertise in system navigation while delivering mentorship and emotional support.

Each of the recognized programs contributes to efforts to reduce incarceration of individuals with serious mental illness. To view the PowerPoint presentation given at the legislative briefing by COMIO Executive Officer Stephanie Welch, and other meeting materials, please visit: https://sites.cdcr.ca.gov/ccjbh/comio-legislative-briefing/.

To view COMIO’s 16th Annual Report visit: https://sites.cdcr.ca.gov/ccjbh/publications/.

Please join us next year as these efforts continue and expand with changes to the council. Beginning January 1, 2018 COMIO will be known as the Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (CCJBH), and our scope will include substance use disorder (SUD) treatment as well as treatment for serious mental illness (SMI). Subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with our new activities for 2018 at https://sites.cdcr.ca.gov/ccjbh/subscribe/.