Center for Justice & Health - MMHPI - Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute

Center for Justice & Health Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute, Center for Justice & Health, Access to Care | Access to Justice

The Center for Justice and Health at the Meadows Institute works with state and national leaders to advance data-driven solutions that transform how the justice system interacts and responds to people living with mental illness. Our nonpartisan research, policy solutions, and technical assistance help ensure that justice system officials, first responders, and health care providers can acquire tools for improving access to care, increasing individual and public safety, and strengthening communities.

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What We Do

Strategic Practice Areas

Transforming the Culture of Response: This practice area seeks to develop, deploy, test, and expand tools and model practices to ensure that mental health crises can be safely and swiftly intercepted at the point of call, vastly reducing the likelihood of arrest and incarceration. (The Center for Justice Health collaborates closely with our Health and Public Safety Team in this practice area.)

Access to Justice: This practice area seeks to research, develop, and deploy strategies to ensure that individuals with behavioral health conditions do not persist in jails and prisons where their condition worsens, and they lose connection with effective care and care pathways.

Youth and Family (Justice Involved): This practice area seeks to produce research and design a multi-system strategy to address systemic multigenerational involvement in the criminal legal system (and upstream) due to ambiguous loss, grief, and related trauma.

Innovation, Law & Health: This practice area intends to seed a dynamic collaboration with law and medical schools, to produce high-impact research and case studies addressing gaps in service/policy to decriminalize mental illness and construct a framework for “digital determinants” of access.

Our Mission

The Center’s mission is to realize justice, safety, and well-being for people with complex behavioral health conditions, by cultivating cross-system collaboration to build practical and scalable solutions that center on the person in need. The primary population of focus is those “living the experience,” including but not limited to the person in crisis or need, family members, caregivers, practitioners, system professionals, and emergency or crisis response agencies.

Jails and emergency rooms across the U.S. are too often the default destinations for people who have an untreated mental illness. There is no dispute that the justice system is the wrong place to treat mental illness. Yet, thousands of people frequently cycle in and out of the justice system without a viable connection to appropriate care that is equitable and deflects them from long-term justice involvement.

Our work advances multi-disciplinary system transformation though collaborative, data-driven program and policy guidance. We engage state and national system leaders to curate a one-stop repository of information for policy and decision-makers, helping them make informed systemic changes that keep people with complex mental and physical health needs in treatment and out of the justice system.

Our Approach

The Center for Justice and Health focuses on three key activities to promote change:

  • Generating knowledge on how policy and practices can most effectively improve justice, safety, and well-being for people who experience a mental health crisis
  • Communicating and disseminating innovative policies and emerging practices
  • Providing research, training, consultation, and technical assistance on justice and health-related initiatives and policies

We recognize the importance of concurrently addressing physical health, mental health, and safety concerns that connect people to services and care beyond emergencies, and that transformational change requires work to be done in concert with the larger response to mental health emergencies.

Meet Our Team

Yolanda Lewis

Executive Director, Center for Justice and Health

Timothy Bray, JD

Vice President of Justice and Health Policy

John Petrila, JD

Senior Policy Advisor

Dia Cirillo

Vice President of Strategy and Programs

Ron Stretcher

Senior Director of Systems Management

Laura Slocum, LPC

Chief of Staff, Center for Justice and Health

John Snook

Chief Policy Officer

B.J. Wagner

Senior Vice President of Health and Public Safety

Jennifer Skeem, PhD

Mack Distinguished Professor and Associate Dean of Research in Social Welfare, and Professor of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley

What can the Center for Justice & Health do for you?

Get in touch to learn more about the Center for Justice and Health and how we can help your community.

Contact Us
Current justice policies and practices have resulted in millions of people ending up in jails or emergency rooms due to a mental health crisis. The Center for Justice and Health helps community leaders transform their systems.
John Petrila, JD
Senior Policy Advisor, Meadow Mental Health Policy Institute

In The News

Pew Charitable Trusts
December 8, 2020

Dallas Works to Avoid Sending People in Crisis to Emergency Rooms or Jails

Pilot program shows early success in rethinking responses to mental health emergencies.

D Magazine
February 2, 2021

The RIGHT Care Program Prepares to Expand Citywide

When it comes to mental health intervention, the city and county have found a way to collaborate and thrive.