This study conducted by the Vera Institute of Justice uses administrative data from five separate government agencies to track criminal justice system involvement and markers of psychiatric needs for people arrested in the District of Columbia to help government better meet the needs of justice involved individuals with mental health concerns. This study demonstrates the importance of interagency communication to provide continuity in care and improve services.
The study represents the first time records from five agencies in Washington, D.C. (the Metropolitian Police Department, the Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency, the Department of Corrections, the Department of Mental Health, and the Pretrial Services Agency) have been combined into an aggregate dataset. With this dataset Vera was able to determine which people arrested in D.C. had mental health needs and the extent to which these agencies identify these needs when individuals come into contact with them. The results revealed that many people arrested with clear mental health needs were unknown to the community treatment system, and that among those that were known to the treatment system, the criminal justice system failed to identify their needs nearly half of the time.