The Crime and Justice Institute (CJI) is rolling out new training curricula in Nevada focused on trauma-informed care and interacting with people with behavioral health needs or disabilities.
Trainings started in May for community supervision staff from Nevada Parole and Probation (NPP). NPP also invited staff from Nevada Department of Corrections and the Department of Sentencing Policy. The trainings equip attendees with strategies and tools to interact more effectively with people with behavioral health needs, those with physical and intellectual disabilities, and survivors of domestic violence.
Staff equipped with tools to engage more effectively can help people access the treatment and supports they need to be more successful in the community.” — CJI Director of Justice Initiatives Barbara Pierce
CJI designed the trainings specifically to meet the requirements of AB 236, Nevada’s 2019 landmark justice reform legislation. State leaders enacted training requirements for key groups of stakeholders interacting with justice-involved individuals in response to findings by the Advisory Commission on the Administration of Justice (ACAJ) that people with behavioral health needs are overrepresented in Nevada’s justice system, as they are nationally.
CJI, funded by the Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA), supported Nevada leaders in developing policy and practice solutions reflected in AB 236 as part of the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) effort. CJI staff provide ongoing technical assistance for the bill’s implementation process.
ACAJ’s 2019 report revealed that people entering Nevada prisons with an identified mental health need increased 35% over a decade, and, for women, that figure was even higher: 47%. Additionally, more than half of all women entering Nevada’s prisons in 2017 had an identified mental health need.
Research has found that people with behavioral health needs are at risk for a host of poor outcomes within the justice system, including longer incarceration stays and more frequent disciplinary infractions. Incarceration may also disrupt essential services and supports, such as treatment, employment, and housing.
The recent trainings are just the beginning of Nevada’s process. CJI uses a train-the-trainer model, meaning that these trainees will learn to train others after they complete their coursework. This first cohort will lead future trainings throughout the state, with support from CJI.
“People whose complex physical and behavioral health needs are unmet may become entrenched in the justice system and return to incarceration time and time again,” said Barbara Pierce, CJI’s director of Justice Initiatives. “Staff equipped with tools to engage more effectively can help people access the treatment and supports they need to be more successful in the community.”