Learning About Us, Learning to Help Us: Supporting People with Psychiatric Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System, written by Policy Research Associates, Inc. and produced by the Support Technical Assistance and Resource (STAR) Center, offers guidance on assisting individuals with mental health conditions in contact with the criminal justice system. The document, originally published in 2013, is composed of the following three sections:

  • Learning About Us, Learning to Help Us: Supporting People with Psychiatric Disabilities in the Criminal Justice System
  • Self-Advocacy and Empowerment Toolkit for Individuals Currently Involved with the Justice System
  • Promising Practices Guide: Supporting the Recovery of Justice-Involved Consumers

Learning About Us, Learning to Help Us provides descriptions of resources that people can use to support their personal recovery journeys. Readers can easily locate specific resources to help them access housing, information about benefits, peer support, and other tools useful in their journey. The section provides personal narratives, a series of personal stories designed to assist you in learning about individuals with psychiatric disabilities, and their involvement in the criminal justice system. They are beneficial in bringing inspiration and understanding to others with similar experiences, providing powerful examples of hope, responsibility, personal empowerment, and the critical role of peer support.

The Self-Advocacy and Empowerment Toolkit identifies resources and strategies to guide its readers―individuals with behavioral health issues and past or current contact with the criminal justice system―in achieving personal recovery goals. The Toolkit responds to the expressed need of justice-involved people with behavioral health issues for additional resources to assist them in making informed decisions about their futures in a manner that accounts for their unique challenges. Although all consumers experience challenges, justice-involved consumers face a special set of challenges and barriers in their recovery journeys. These tools were designed to help you overcome these challenges and allow you to enjoy all the opportunities and benefits of a full life in the community.

The Promising Practices Guide was developed from a selection of recommendations outlined by the National GAINS Center as part of its Adapting Evidence-Based based Practices for Justice-Involved Populations Initiative. This guide includes specific examples of how promising practices and approaches are being implemented across the United States to improve the integration of justice-involved consumers into the community.

The NAMI STAR Center was a federally funded technical assistance center dedicated to promoting and enhancing recovery, mental health, and wellness through information, training, and resources on effective self-help and multicultural competence and social inclusion approaches with a special focus on working with underserved communities.

Please note that this document is a legacy document. It has not been updated since its original publication in 2013 and it has not been remediated for Section 508 accessibility. If you would like an accessible version of this document, please email us at communications@prainc.com.

This resource was first shared in 2013.

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