The Dane County Criminal Justice Council (CJC) has been awarded a grant from the National Association of Counties (NACo) to provide Dane County with technical assistance on ways to provide support for individuals with mental illness who also are involved with the criminal justice system. Approaches will focus on a racial and ethnic disparities framework.
The County Justice Peer Learning Network will take place from January 2020 to June 2021. District Attorney Ismael Ozanne will lead the Dane County team in the Peer Learning Network.
“I am dedicated to not only raising awareness of racial and health disparities across our criminal justice system, but ensuring we move forward with solutions that result in equal access, better outcomes, and healthier families in Dane County,” Ozanne said in a statement. “This grant will allow Dane County to partner with national experts and local leaders to craft effective policy and programs that will help address the busy intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice.”
Nationally, it is estimated that 2 million annual jail admissions involve a person with a serious mental illness. In Dane County, 46% of jail inmates received a mental health diagnosis according to the Dane County Behavioral Health Needs Assessment completed in 2019.
“We’ve done some great work on acknowledging the critical intersection between behavioral health and criminal justice, and the disproportionate impact on minorities, but we have much more to do in the future” said Sharon Corrigan, Chair of the Dane County Board of Supervisors, in a statement. “Partnering with national experts will help us to keep pushing the needle forward on improvements.”
The grant is funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation as a part of the Safety and Justice Challenge, an initiative Dane County has been part of for several years.