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

Two programs receive awards, four recognized as “promising projects”

SEASIDE — The Council on Mentally Ill Offenders (COMIO) announced the recipients of the annual Best Practices awards today at its council meeting. The Integrated Mental Health Assessment and Treatment Continuum for Juvenile Probation and Youth (IMAT), a Sacramento County collaboration, received a Best Practices award in the Juvenile Programs category. In the Adult Programs category, San Bernardino County’s Supervised Treatment After Release (STAR) program received an award.

The council also recognized four Promising Projects, which are local efforts that offer exciting potential for the future. The Promising Projects recognized today include the Juvenile Mental Health Court in Los Angeles, and three adult projects: a Mental Health Court in Placer County, a Mental Health Court in Riverside County and a Whatever It Takes (WIT) Court in Orange County.

“Last year the Council broke new ground by establishing the Best Practices Awards for projects designed to serve mentally ill offenders,” said Matthew Cate, COMIO Chairperson and Secretary of the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). “This year, we are very pleased to recognize the achievements of the Sacramento and San Bernardino County projects, and recognize the potential in the four Promising Projects.”

The recipients are recognized for successfully managing a program that reflects best practices in California, for treating mentally ill patients to decrease the likelihood of their involvement with law enforcement and to increase the likelihood of an effective transition back into the community. Best Practices award winners will receive special plaques and the Promising Projects certificates at an awards ceremony held tonight in conjunction with the annual statewide conference of the Forensic Mental Health Association of California.

“Recognizing these agencies for their efforts to create successful methods for treating mentally ill patients within California’s complex criminal justice system is a key component of the Council,” said Secretary Cate. “It is crucial that state and local agencies maintain a coordinated approach to providing programs that serve the needs of mentally ill offenders, and any way that we can help to promote their successes, we will do so.”

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.

COMIO Website:
COMIO is comprised of an eleven-person panel of experts and practitioners selected to tackle the difficult challenges posed by mentally ill offenders. The legislation designates as permanent members the Secretary of the Youth and Adult Correctional Agency (now the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation-CDCR) and the Director of the California Department of Mental Health, with the CDCR Secretary serving as the chair. The other members are appointed as follows: three by the Governor, at least one of whom shall represent mental health; two each by the Senate Rules Committee and the Speaker of the Assembly, each appointing one representative of law enforcement and one representative of mental health; one by the Attorney General; and one superior court judge appointed by the Chief Justice. There is one vacancy, currently. Members include the following individuals:


Matthew L. Cate, Secretary, California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR)

Stephen Mayberg, Ph.D., Director, California Department of Mental Health (DMH).

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