U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Mental Health Records Sharing in the District of Columbia

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2014, $60,000)

The State Justice Statistics (SJS) Program is designed to maintain and enhance each state's capacity to address criminal justice issues through collection and analysis of data. The SJS Program provides support to each state to coordinate and conduct statistical activities within the state, conduct research to estimate impacts of legislative and policy changes, and serve as a liaison in assisting BJS to gather data from respondent agencies within their states.

The District of Columbia (DC) Statistical Analysis Center (SAC), located within the DC Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), will use FY 2014 SJS funds to complete the first year of a multi-phase project to address the information gaps that exist in the collection and sharing of mental health data among the District's law enforcement, criminal justice, and mental health provider agencies and to develop the necessary systems and infrastructure to facilitate the furtherance of these data exchanges. It is recognized that there is a clear disconnect between and within the District's criminal justice and mental health systems regarding the sharing of mental health data. According to a 2012 VERA Institute report, "Using Criminal Justice and Public Health Data to Improve the Identification of Mental Illness," 33% of individuals arrested in the District have some indication of a mental health need. However, the ability of the criminal justice system to identify and provide services to persons with mental health needs is attenuated by the lack of data sharing and coordination among city agencies. As highlighted by the 2012 VERA study, among those with a mental health need, 83% were known by at least one criminal justice agency between 2006 and 2011, but the Department of Mental Health (DMH) knew about only 59%. Similarly, many arrestees known to DMH (now the Department of Behavioral Health) as having a mental health need, were not known to the criminal justice system at the time they were processed and, of the approximately one-third of arrestees with an identified mental health need, only about 41% were known by only one agency. The SAC requests SJS funding to address these issues and develop recommendations to improve the sharing of mental health information across the District's law enforcement, criminal justice, and mental health provider agencies. Specifically, the SAC will use SJS funds to support contractual services to thoroughly assess and document: 1) all relevant data sets and data collection processes related to mental health assessments, needs identifications, treatment allocations and continuity of care; 2) the legal barriers to sharing such data; and 3) data gaps. A data quality assessment will also be completed to identify what information would be of greatest systemic value toward effective mental health treatment.


Date Created: August 6, 2014