National Leadership Forum
The National Leadership Forum on Behavioral Health/Criminal Justice Services (NLF) was established in 2008 to address common barriers to successful diversion and reentry – the lack of accessible, quality and appropriate services that help individuals remain and succeed in the community. Forum members represented leading experts in the fields of criminal justice, consumer advocacy, and behavioral health, including consumers advocates, directors of national consumer organizations, CEOs of community behavioral health care providers, judges and public defenders, behavioral health practitioners, state mental health agency representatives, state department of corrections directors, and other national leaders in the field.
The work of the NLF made it clear that:
- The ever-increasing number of persons with mental illness in the justice system is a public health and a public safety crisis that demands urgent attention;
- We know how to successfully address the needs of people with mental and substance use disorders who come in contact with the criminal justice system;
- The information that is already available needs to be put into practice; and
- The time for action is now!
- The President should appoint a Special Advisor for Mental Health/ Criminal Justice Collaboration;
- Federal Medicaid policies that limit or discourage access to more effective and cost-efficient health care services for individuals with serious mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders should be reviewed and action taken to create more efficient programs;
- All States should create cross-system agencies, commissions, or positions charged with removing barriers and creating incentives for cross-agency activity at the State and local level; and
- Localities must be develop and implement core services that comprise an Essential System of Care.