“The Council has broken new ground this year by establishing and recognizing the Best Practices in serving mentally ill offenders,” said James Tilton, COMIO Chairperson and Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). “Persons with mental illness traditionally have been underserved and often end up in jail or prison due to few community alternatives and a lack of understanding of the needs of these individuals. These five projects show creative approaches to serving this population.”
“It is critical that state agencies and local governments have a coordinated approach to providing programs that serve the needs of mentally ill offenders and improve public safety, said Secretary Tilton. “These awards highlight examples of the ‘best of the best’ approaches throughout California to effectively serve the needs of the mentally ill offender.”
COMIO intends to annually recognize providers who successfully treat mentally ill patients within the state and county criminal justice systems.
COMIO was created by the legislature in 2001 “to investigate and promote cost-effective approaches to meeting the long-term needs of adults and juveniles with mental disorders who are likely to become offenders or who have a history of offending.” Two strategies to achieve this were defined:
1) to improve service coordination among state and local mental health, criminal justice and juvenile justice programs, and
2) to improve the ability of adult and juvenile offenders with mental health need to transition successfully between corrections-based, juvenile-based and community-based treatment programs.
COMIO is comprised of a ten person panel of experts and practitioners selected to tackle the difficult challenges posed by mentally ill offenders. The board meets six times a year.
Chairperson James E. Tilton, Secretary, CDCR
Vice-Chairperson: Stephen Mayberg, Ph.D., Director, CA Department of Mental Health
Members: Joel Fay, PsyD., Mental Health Liaison Officer, San Rafael Police Department; David Lehman, Chief Probation Officer (retired), Humboldt County, and former member of the Board of Corrections (now the Corrections Standard Authority); Wendy Lindley, Judge, Orange County Superior Court; Duane E. McWaine, M.D., Medical Director, Didi Hirsch Community Mental Health Center, Los Angeles; David Meyer, J.D., Professor, Institute of Psychiatry, Law and Behavioral Science, Keck School of Medicine, USC, and former Chief Deputy Director, Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health; Jo Robinson, M.F.T., Program Director, San Francisco Jail Health and Psychiatric Services; James W. Sweeney, J.D., Principal, James W. Sweeney & Associates; Charles L. Walters, Ph.D., Assistant Sheriff, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner Department.