The Fulton County Justice and Mental Health Task Force is aligned with the Stepping Up Initiative, a national effort spearheaded by the American Psychiatric Foundation, National Association of Counties, and Council of State Governments Justice Center.
Planning, Analysis, and Prioritization
To support these systems-wide Stepping Up goals, the Superior Court of Fulton County applied for and was awarded a $250,000 planning grant in 2016 by the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance. Through grant funding support, Superior Court convened the Fulton County Justice and Mental Health Task Force and developed a systems-level, data-driven action plan.
During the planning phase, the task force organized into five workgroups that met monthly to move the project forward. Workgroups were based on community priorities established in the Sequential Intercept Mapping workshop. Workgroups were responsible to assess the current system, build consensus around opportunities for reform, gather data , and develop formal recommendations. Recommendations were then prioritized, and business cases developed from the top four priorities.
The Carl Vinson Institute of Government provided technical assistance to Fulton County Superior Court and its partners to help document how individuals with mental disorders move through the local justice system, collect system-wide data, and meeting coordination and facilitation. The Policy Research Associates provided technical assistance through a two-day Sequential Intercept Mapping Workshop on April 25-26, 2017. The Council for State Governments Justice Center provides technical support through links to national resources, monthly calls, and expert recommendations to ensure the project was a success.
Fulton County Board of Commissioners financially sponsored implementation of four business cases that include a screening and reentry team, data, training, and diversion.
In 2018, Fulton County Superior Court applied for and was awarded a BJA/JMHCP Category Three grant. Grant funds are supporting a dedicated Stepping Up Engagement team, whose goal is to build further capacity of the Fulton County Justice and Mental Health Task Force. This includes positioning the collaborative group to be more data-driven, particularly related to jail mental health screenings and follow-up care, and developing a data-sharing platform to be used across justice, health, housing, and social service systems. Grant-funded activities also surround analysis of every jail booking to identify “frequent utilizers.” With assistance from a data collection and evaluation partner, the team is conducting analysis across data silos to identify people who frequently go between the justice system, emergency health, forensic, and social service systems. If identified, the team will ensure that these individuals are triaged by the jail medical providers to address SMI/CMISA and any need for opioid overdose reversal drugs or recovery supports, and linked to treatment and services. The team will meet regularly to strengthen the local provider infrastructure and prioritize treatment to reduce arrests, reduce jail length of stays, improve connections to care and reduce recidivism.