NAMI works on a number of public policy issues that impact people with mental illness and their families, including reforming the criminal justice system.
For the last 30 years, NAMI has been at the forefront to bring Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs to cities across the country. CIT programs are innovative community collaborations that look to improve police response to people with mental illness and divert people away from jail and into treatment. You can learn more about CIT on our website here.
NAMI is also actively involved in the Stepping Up Initiative in partnership with the National Association of Counties (NACO), the Council of State Governments (CSG) and the American Psychiatric Association Foundation. This initiative aims to help communities reduce the number of people with mental illness in jails. To date, 461 counties have passed resolutions to achieve this goal through screening and connection to treatment.
De-criminalizing mental illness and increasing access to care for those who are involved in the justice system is part of NAMI’s Public Policy Platform. We advocate for the reauthorization and funding of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act (MIOTCRA) and were successful in having it expanded to cover programs for people charged or convicted of non-violent felonies. You can go to our website to read more about our positions on diversion from Justice involvement and jailing people with mental illness.
Finally, every day our NAMI Helpline answers calls from family members who are worried about their loved one who is incarcerated. We provide resources and referrals so families can begin to advocate on their loved one’s behalf. To further empower families and people with mental illness, NAMI developed a series of Criminal Justice Videos that respond to the most pressing questions of people navigating the criminal justice system.