Beyond the Badge

A conversation with Brenda Grealish, CCJBH

Brenda Grealish
Brenda Grealish, Executive Officer, CCJBH.

Inside CDCR caught up with Brenda Grealish, who serves as the Executive Officer of The Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (CCJBH).

This 12-member council of experts acts as a resource for the administration and legislature, focusing on best practices.

The council’s goal is to reduce incarceration of people with mental illness and/or substance-use disorders using prevention, diversion, and reentry strategies.

The council recently completed a contract to develop the Public Health and Safety (PH/PS) Framework and Data Visualization. The contract is summarized in a report that explains how using data can lead to more positive outcomes.

Grealish walks us through the report and how it will support CDCR’s mission.

Tell us about CCJBH’s involvement in the Public Health and Public Safety (PH/PS) Report.

In summer 2020, CCJBH established a contract with the Council on State Governments (CSG) Justice Center, who gathered information from:

  • subject matter experts
  • individuals with lived experience in the behavioral health and criminal justice systems
  • and the latest research.

From this information developed a data-driven framework that informs its work to reduce and prevent incarceration of people with behavioral health needs. The goal is to stop what is often referred to as the “revolving door” of involvement in the justice system.

As noted in the final report, “One of the keys to reducing criminal justice involvement is sometimes what happens outside of the justice system itself. The framework seeks to outline the domains outside of the criminal justice system that policymakers should seek to address as they work to make meaningful justice system reforms.”

The PH/PS searchable database just launched on CCJBH’s website. Who can access this data and how will it serve as a useful tool? 

Anyone will be able to access the Public Health Meets Public Safety Data Visualization. As well, anyone has access to the CSG Justice Center developed under this contract, the Open Datasets Inventory.

The searchable database allows us to continuously observe the factors that are known to contribute to justice system involvement and outcomes for individuals who have behavioral health needs.

Much of the data will allows for examination of demographic disparities across multiple dimensions. This includes race, ethnicity, gender, and geography.

Ultimately, CCJBH seeks to use this information to guide our work to ensure that we maximize our available resources to meet our mission.

This project has really shown the value of interagency collaboration. Are there other upcoming projects the council has been collaborating with partnering agencies on?

CCJBH considers strategies that improve service coordination among state and local behavioral health and criminal justice programs.

The council supports all relevant systems in working together to maximize available funding. This achieves the best possible outcomes for individuals with behavioral health needs who are, or at risk of becoming, justice-involved.  

In addition to continuing to work to build out the Public Health Meets Public Safety Data Visualization tool, CCJBH is continuing to support the implementation of several projects, including:

  • The Department of Health Care Services’ California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal initiative
  • Fostering collaborative efforts between California’s housing and correctional system partners
  • Elevating the voices of individuals with lived experience to inform and government decision-making
  • Making evidence-based program and practices information available to support the implementation of SB 823 Juvenile Justice Realignment.

Inside CDCR caught up with Brenda Grealish, Executive Officer of CCJBH, to discuss mental health and substance use disorders in this video.

Read full Public Health and Public Safety (PH/PS) report: Public Health Meets Public Safety (PHMPS) – Council on Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health (

Access Public Health Meets Public Safety Data Visualization tool: Public Health Meets Public Safety Data Visualization | Tableau Public

Story by Alia Cruz, OPEC PIO
Video by Krissi Khokhobashvili, OPEC Assistant Secretary (A)

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