The DC Forensic Health Project (DCFHP) uses data from several Washington, DC agencies to gauge rates of mental health problems among people arrested in the District and to assess the services they receive. Its aim is to provide government and community-based organizations with the information they need to improve the effectiveness and reach of mental health services.

With support from the Public Welfare Foundation, the William S. Abell Foundation, and the Justice Grants Administration of Washington, DC, the DC Forensic Health Project will:

  • describe peoples’ mental health needs and their pathways as they pass through the DC criminal justice system and reenter communities;
  • inform targeted service models that improve access to treatment for underserved groups; and,
  • provide an example of analysis that could be conducted with an integrated data system or data sharing between agencies.

Why This Work Matters 
Criminal justice system involvement often correlates with a range of health and social problems including substance use and mental illness. However, most criminal justice institutions lack tools to identify these kinds of problems—as well as the resources to deal with them—and many people pass through the jail, the courts, or community supervision agencies without receiving critical support. The DC Forensic Health Project’s goal is to provide health and justice system practitioners with the information necessary to identify and respond to the mental health needs of underserved groups.

For more information, contact program director Jim Parsons.

Closing the Gap: Using Criminal Justice and Public Health Data to Improve the Identification of Mental Illness
Researchers from Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program created an unprecedented dataset including records from four Washington, DC criminal justice agencies and the Department of Mental Health to study the mental health needs of people arrested in the District of Columbia in June 2008. The...
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By Talia Sandwick, SUMH research analyst On July 26, Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program (SUMH) published a new report on the mental health needs of people arrested in the District of Columbia. The report, Closing the Gap: Using Criminal...