On March 22 and 23, Equitas will be hosting Course Corrections: Mid-Atlantic Summit on Behavioral Health and Criminal Justice. The summit will take place in Washington, D.C. at the Offices of the National Association of Counties. This two-day event will bring together close to 100 experts, advocates, and stakeholders from the behavioral health and criminal justice fields, with Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart as the Keynote Speaker.
Since 2006, Sheriff Dart has implemented the vision of restorative justice within Cook County Jail – the largest jail in the U.S. – effectively reducing the number of non-violent offenders behind bars. Sheriff Dart has been a strong advocate for increasing national awareness around the issue of criminalization of persons with mental illnesses and even created a Mental Health Template for American Jails. Sheriff Dart, along with his counterparts across the country, have begun to notice a common occurrence that needs to be broken: “Absolutely none of us signed up to run the largest mental health institutions in our respective communities.”
Vincent Atchity, Executive Director of Equitas, considers Course Corrections as the organization’s effort to “identify a life-cycle continuum of opportunities for individuals living with mental or behavioral health challenges to be supported, cared for, and integrated into their communities and the economy before ever engaging with, or after being released from the over-utilized criminal justice system.” Equitas held its first Course Corrections Summit in Colorado at the end of August 2016 and will continue to host these convenings as a way of bringing more awareness, identifying best practices, and reducing incarceration within a nation that jails its citizens at an alarmingly high rate. To learn more or to see the full agenda of upcoming summits, visit the Equitas website.