Council on Mentally Ill Offenders

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Building bridges between criminal justice and behavioral health to prevent incarceration.

2010 Best Practices Awards

Council on Mentally Ill Offenders (COMIO)
2010 Best Practices Awards

The Council on Mentally Ill Offenders (COMIO) has designated three projects to receive the 2010 Best Practices Award.  These projects, one juvenile and one adult, are recognized for their effectiveness in measuring the successful treatment of mentally ill patients/clients to decrease the likelihood of future involvement with law enforcement and corrections and increase the individuals’ likelihood of effectively transitioning back into the community.  In addition to the Best Practices Awards, this year the Council has created a new subdivision of recognition to be known as Promising Projects.  A Best Practice Project typically has a combination of program maturity and a statistical analysis and evaluation approach used to document the project’s success.  A project is considered “promising” when it demonstrates unique qualities or innovative direction, but may not have the program maturity or analysis seen in Best Practices Projects. The 2010 awards were presented to the San Francisco County Jail Psychiatric Sheltered Living Unit, San Mateo County Pathways, and Stanislaus County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services.

2010 Best Practices Award Recipients

San Francisco County Jail Number 4, Psychiatric Sheltered Living Unit (PSLU) -San Francisco Jail Psychiatric Services (JPS).


From left to right: Kristina Kenyon (Therapist), Jane Lovelle (Psychiatric Site Manager) and Nick Goldenson (Counselor) San Francisco Jail Psychiatric Services (JPS)

Collaborative Partners/Providers: JPS is a program of the Haight Ashbury Free Clinic Incorporated.  JPS core staff operates the PSLU program and provides group and individual therapy for the clients. It is essential to the program that staff develops and maintains collaborative relationships with other agencies within the jail and the community.  The PSLU staff have forged close relationships with Jail Aftercare Services (who assist clients in getting into Behavioral Health Court), the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department, Jail Medical Services and the mental health staff from Ward 7L of San Francisco General Hospital.  The PSLU program also works with group and peer facilitators from different services in the community to conduct groups in the PSLU, and community case managers who meet with their clients in the PSLU on a regular basis. The PSLU clinicians share a strong partnership with San Francisco Citywide Forensics and other community treatment providers.  These agencies include Progress Foundation (Acute Diversion Unit), Baker Places, Westside Crises, Parole Outpatient Clinic, Conard House, Center for Recovery and Behavioral Health Access Center.

Date Founded: January 2007

Objectives: The PSLU program is designed to serve the chronically mentally ill who may also have co-occurring substance/alcohol abuse issues.  The primary objectives of the PSLU program are to equip clients with the necessary life skills to manage their mental illness so that they are able to function at their full
potential.  The PSLU program is designed to mirror community treatment programs that address mental health and substance abuse issues from a recovery model perspective.  The program utilizes a three-pronged approach to achieve these objectives.  The approach emphasizes (1) accepting mental illness and developing skills to deal with mental illness and substance abuse, (2) decriminalizing client’s thinking and behavior and (3) fostering positive social skills and role performance.  The ultimate objective of the program is to develop and embrace the client’s strengths so that they can live to their full potential when they leave the program. Ninety-five percent of the clients leave the PSLU and re-enter the community.  Some of the clients continue in Behavioral Health Court after they have left jail, while others enter residential programs or attend day treatment.  A minority of the clients return to live with family or friends and 5% (N = 13) are sentenced to prison.


  • The PSLU program is unique in its structure and function as a treatment immersion program for the incarcerated mentally ill in jail.  It provides clients with a restorative community environment and multiple treatment services that are infrequently offered in a jail setting.  The program confers high levels of freedom and responsibility to the incarcerated clients compared to their peers and the inmate population housed in other jail areas.
  • The program provides a unique opportunity for clients to take on roles of leadership in the operation of the PSLU community. When new clients enter the program, they are greeted by the peer-elected president who orients them to the PSLU milieu as well as asking them to sign a contract that outlines the guidelines and expectations of community living.  Consumer responsibility is cultivated by providing a forum in which clients can have an active role in the on-going development and operation of the program.


  • PSLU is unique in the variety of options that are made available to the clients. The clients are encouraged to take an active and accountable role in their recovery by utilizing all the resources available to them. These include therapist and peer-led groups, individual weekly treatment, peer-socialization that includes playing board games, card games and bingo.  The clients maintain their own library, have various art supplies so that they can paint and draw, can listen to music, read and watch television.  The clients also organize their own tournaments which include dominoes, scrabble along with basketball and ping-pong on their weekly visits to the gym.
  • The core of the PSLU treatment is based on the group modality, and accordingly clients choose to participate in the groups that are the most relevant to their treatment goals and that emphasize their strengths.  The amount and variety of groups that are offered is a progressive element of the program. 


  • An additional unique aspect of the program is that the clients organize and participate in peer activities and projects that draw on their individual talents and areas of expertise. The clients develop self-reliance and awareness by holding positions of leadership and serving on committees.  One such committee is involved in organizing the PSLU annual holiday party that guests and leaders from various San Francisco community mental health agencies, the Sheriff’s Department and the legal system attend each December. The guests watch the clients perform in a play that the clients have written, listen to the PSLU Men’s Choir and enjoy comedy sketches and poetry recitals.
  • This jail treatment program is innovative in that the clinicians seek to involve the client’s families, friends and support systems while the clients are in jail. Clinicians try to facilitate regular communication between clients and their families, as this is an important support for clients to continue their recovery both in and out of jail.


Contact: Jane Lovelle LCSW, Psychiatric Site Manager and Clinical Supervisor at San Francisco County Jail 4.  850 Bryant St. San Francisco, CA 94103.  JPS Office 650 Fifth Street, Suite 309 San Francisco, CA 94107.  (415) 734-3272

Stanislaus County Behavioral Health & Recovery Services: Integrated Forensic Team / Mental Health Treatment Court

Collaborative Partners/Providers: Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office;
Stanislaus County Office of the Public Defender; Stanislaus County Probation Department; Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department; Stanislaus Superior Court

Date Founded: January 2006 (Mental Health Treatment Court component April 2007)

Objectives:  Reduce the following: homelessness, incarceration and institutionalization, use of emergency room care, inability to work, and inability to manage independence, isolation and involuntary care.


  • The core of this program are the Integrated Forensic Team and the Stanislaus County’s Mental Health Treatment Court and Restoration to Competency program. These allow the county to provide addition resources to our Mental Health Treatment Court, ties a Sheriff’s Deputy to our Integrated Forensic Team, and the ability to track Restoration to Competency clients during our Mental Health Court calendar through the assigned Superior Court department. A basic core benefit is more available staff for each of these small programs: from office coverage and groups, to covering vacations.


  • The program includes a dedicated ‘mental health’ Sheriff’s Deputy. This position assists our community based behavioral health staff and probation officer in the community, as well as works closely with our RN when they are working at Stanislaus County’s Public Safety Center. See item 14 for additional impacts of this position.
  • 20 slots for clients who are involved in Adult Drug Court or Prop 36/OTP and are struggling with being successful due to a co-occurring mental illness.


  • Jail Matching database. Daily one-way matching of all booked individuals to identify if they are or have been involved in behavioral health services (mental health and/or alcohol and other drug services).
  • A full time RN is assigned to spend half of their time at Stanislaus County’s Public Safety Center. This makes good use of the jail matching database, provides prompts assessments of referred in-custody clients.


Contact: Michael Wilson, mfti Coordinator
500 N. 9th Street, Modesto, CA 95350


San Mateo County Mental Health: Pathways

Collaborative Partners/Providers: San Mateo County Courts, Probation Department, District Attorney’s Office, Private Defender Office, Sheriff’s Office, Correctional Mental Health, and Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS).

Date Founded: January 2007

Objectives:  The objective of Pathways is to engage seriously mentally ill offenders with increased services and supports to help break the revolving criminal justice door.
Their histories and treatment plans are reviewed in weekly Pathway meetings which include staff representing Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Probation
Department, Private Defenders Office, and other service providers. Additional planning takes place in the Judge’s chambers on Friday before Court. Clients are provided with assistance, connected with treatment services, and given encouragement to achieve their long term goals.  These goals may include sobriety, independent housing, addressing physical health issues, attending school or obtaining employment. The majority of the participants have co-occurring substance abuse disorders which are addressed through residential and out-patient drug and alcohol services.
It is through the intensive supervision by Pathways staff, engagement in treatment, symptom recognition and management, and participation in meaningful activities toward the client’s goals that incarceration and recidivism are reduced.

Many of the clients have been socially isolated and have not felt part of a healthy community. Pathways has ongoing groups, Saturday staff coverage and activities, picnics and other social gatherings to foster connection. Clients are brought back in to Court periodically to review their progress. This may involve confronting destructive choices or rewarding positive decisions. Clients graduate at the end of their probation period and are honored in Court with a ceremony and certificate. They then become part of our Alumni and can mentor others in Pathways.

Pathways has been described as the most progressive step ever taken in our criminal justice system to work with persons with mental health issues to ensure they do not re-offend and return to jail. Pathways clients and the program have experienced a great deal of success over the past year based on the increasing enrollment, successful completion of substance abuse treatment programs, recidivism decreases, jail day rate decreases and the excitement and joy shared at Pathways events. The net result is an improvement in the quality of life for Pathways clients. The booking decrease noted went from 86 a year prior to 41 for 2008. The jail days went from 2,812 days to 1,192 days. This is not just a significant savings to the County it is also about shaping its citizens and giving them hope and opportunity. Pathways is committed to providing our at risk population with what ever it takes to give them the opportunity to have a better life.

Contact: Richard F. Hori, Probation Services Manager
400 County Center, Redwood City, CA 94063

Terry Wilcox-Rittgers, Clinical Services Manager 900 Veterans Blvd. #330, Redwood City, CA 94063


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Updated May 25, 2010