McAuliffe announces pilot projects supporting mental health services in jails

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced the award of grants that will six fund pilot projects to provide services to inmates with mental illness in local or regional jails.

The grants were approved by the Criminal Justice Services Board at its meeting on December 8th in the City of Richmond. The funds for the grants were appropriated to the Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) by the General Assembly during the 2016 Session.

Governor McAuliffe included the appropriation in his two-year budget, to provide expanded services to individuals in the criminal justice system with mental illness. The Governor’s Task Force on Improving Mental Health Services and Crisis Response, chaired by Lt. Governor Ralph Northam, proposed the establishment of mental health pilot projects as a means of establishing evidence-based behavioral health services in local and regional jails.

“It is imperative that individuals requiring mental health services receive the proper care from the state, especially in situations where the person is incarcerated,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The grants appropriated to DCJS will improve the services and accountability of our judicial facilities and ultimately safeguard the wellbeing of detained individuals requiring mental healthcare. We will continue to look for innovative solutions and pilot programs to better equip our judicial system and law enforcement to handle mental health needs and better crisis interventions.”

Lt. Governor Ralph Northam added, “The involvement of local mental health services, prosecutors, law enforcement, community corrections and other agencies required for these pilot projects is key to their effectiveness. I am looking forward to following their progress and seeing the concepts embodied in these pilots implemented elsewhere in Virginia.”

Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security Brian Moran said, “With this grant money, we will provide a robust and comprehensive continuum of care for individuals with mental illness who transition into and out of our jails. To ensure they receive proper treatment and safely transition into the community requires close cooperation between the jails and local mental health and behavioral health providers. Through these pilot programs, best practices will be developed to improve our services and facilities.”

The legislature directed DCJS to collaborate with the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services and the State Compensation Board in soliciting and reviewing proposals. DCJS issued a solicitation for pilot project proposals last summer. The grants approved for an 18-month period by the Criminal Justice Services Board were among 19 proposals submitted to DCJS in response. The six pilot projects approved begin operation on January 1, 2017 and are located in: the City of Richmond; Chesterfield County; the Hampton Roads Regional Jail; the Prince William-Manassas Regional Jail; the Middle River Regional Jail; and the Western Virginia Regional Jail.

The Assembly appropriated $1 million for the projects for the period January 1 through June 30, 2017, and $2.5 million for 12 months beginning on July 1, 2017. The legislature also established minimum criteria for DCJS and its partners to use in reviewing the submitted proposals and determining which six to recommend. Among them are:

  • The use of mental health screening and assessment;
  • The use of a collaborative partnership among local agencies and officials;
  • Establishment of a crisis intervention team;
  • Training for jail staff in dealing with mentally ill inmates;
  • And the use of evidence-based programs and services.

DCJS will report on the implementation and effectiveness of the pilot programs to the Governor, the Secretaries of Health and Human Services and Public Safety and Homeland Security, and the Chairmen of the House Appropriations and Senate Finance committees in October 2017 and October 2018.

More information on the six grants approved is available below.

Jail Mental Health Pilot Project Grant Awards for FY17 and FY18
FacilityAwarded Amount
Chesterfield County$416,281
Hampton Roads Regional Jail$939,435
Middle River Regional Jail$536,384
Prince William-Manassas Jail$410,898
Richmond City Jail$670,813
Western Virginia Regional Jail$526,185


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