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'Trauma Informed'

Feb 28

Mental Health Challenges in Criminal Justice System

Posted to Community Services News on February 28, 2020 at 12:17 PM by Janet Lo

2020-02-OJI - BHUOffice of Justice Initiatives, Behavioral Health Unit

Mental Health Challenges in the Criminal Justice System: The Need for Shelby County’s Behavioral Health Unit 

According to a Mental Health America 2015 report, 1.2 million people with mental illnesses sit in jail and prison every year. That is more than half of all Americans in jail or prison.  

Let that sink in. Half of all Americans in prison have a mental illness. 

Tennessee unfortunately ranks within the top ten states with the least access to mental health care. Shelby County took action in January 2016 to ensure that defendants in the criminal justice system, that have been identified as having a mental illness, have options for care and treatment that will ultimately reduce their risk of future incarceration.  

Qualifying defendants suffering from mental illness can go on probation, in lieu of incarceration, and have the option to have their charges dropped in exchange for completing a year-long mental health treatment plan determined by Shelby County’s Mental Health Court.

Defendants must plead guilty to stay in the yearlong program, but once they complete it, their arrest records are expunged. The program includes mental and physical health care, help with alcohol and drug abuse, housing assistance and, if they are capable, employment assistance.

The need is great in Shelby County. The court's clients, most commonly charged with theft, have been arrested an average of 136 times, with records that go back 20 to 25 years, mostly based on "nuisance crimes" — shoplifting, public drunkenness, and crimes associated with drug use. The court calls them "frequent fliers," meaning they're in and out of jail 8 to 10 times per year.

Shelby County's mental health court is presided over by Judge Gerald Skahan. Its performance and the critical needs among an estimated 500 people in jail with a diagnosed mental illness persuaded officials to double the court’s current case load to 50 offenders since it began in 2016.  

If you know someone that is currently in jail awaiting trial, on probation, or in prison that has a mental health condition and needs help with seeking treatment or medication, please contact the Behavioral Health Unit team at 901-222-2043. 

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Feb 28

Grief Group Helps Teens, Parents

Posted to Community Services News on February 28, 2020 at 12:04 PM by Janet Lo

Grief Grief 1Grief 2Grief 3Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center
Grief Group Helps Teens, Parents Who Had to "Face Death Too Soon"

The Daily Memphian was there when a homicide response counselor and a community engagement specialist from the Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center met at Orange Mound Outreach Ministries to discuss using the ministry as home for the teen grief pilot program. The grief group will be for teens and their parents impacted by homicides. The Daily Memphian reports: 

“You don’t understand how much we need this,” Rev. Reginald Tucker said. “It is a real serious necessity because I’ve had several kids who have had to face death too soon and the grief process is not resolved. I had one kid’s brother to be taken, and it has been like four years and she is still acting out.”

For more than two decades, the Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center has offered help and free counseling to those in need. This year, the center is expanding its outreach in an effort to let the public know who the center is and what the center offers. Among the offerings is the new program to help teens affected by homicides in Memphis and Shelby County.

Photos by Patrick Lantrip of the Daily Memphian

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Jan 30

Prioritizing Prevention

Posted to Community Services News on January 30, 2020 at 8:47 AM by Janet Lo

CVRCC - testimonial quote

Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center
Prioritizing Prevention
In 2019, the Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center (CVRCC) served 3,996 victims of crime.  Yes, you read that right.  Almost 4,000 victims. And we know there are so many more people in Shelby County who have been impacted by crime but don’t know about our services or for some reason feel they can’t access them.  

This is why CVRCC’s mission is more than providing comprehensive services and resources to victims of crime. Quality, trauma-informed, and victim-centered services are important, but we know we have to work harder to get the word out about our agency’s services and about the symptoms and impact that people who suffer from trauma can experience.  To let our community know that we are here to help them on their journey towards resiliency and healing from that trauma, no matter how long ago the crime occurred.  

We also know that we have to figure out how to get ahead of this problem, to keep people from being victimized, to reduce the number of people suffering from violence-related trauma in our community.  We have to put our resources—time, money, and staffing—towards violence prevention efforts.  We have to PRIORITIZE PREVENTION.  

Primary violence prevention includes any action, strategy, or policy that works to prevent violence from occurring in the first place.  Primary prevention seeks to reduce the overall likelihood that anyone will become a victim or offender of crime by creating conditions that make violence less likely to occur.    

We are pleased to announce that we have recently been granted Rape Prevention and Education funding from the Tennessee Department of Health which allows us to hire our first-ever full-time prevention staff. This new staff member will join our two existing part-time staff to help expand our violence prevention efforts, like the healthy relationships classes we hold for Shelby County Schools or the Hope & Healing workshops we are piloting with Job Corps. That team is also working with Memphis Public Libraries, City of Memphis Ambassadors Program (MAP), and BRIDGES USA to get youth involved from across our county in leading their families and their communities in living violence-free lives.  For more information, call 901-222-3950. 

Partner Survey

Please help us assess our collaboration efforts by taking this brief survey. The Shelby County Crime Victims & Rape Crisis Center is fueled by strong partnerships throughout the county. In order to best serve residents, we are asking the community to help assess our collaborative efforts by taking a brief survey: www.surveymonkey.com/r/CVRCCPartner . 

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