Judges and Psychiatrists Leadership Initiative

As communities strive to meet the needs of individuals with behavioral health disorders, U.S. courts are faced with new challenges in balancing public safety and public health.

Judges routinely encounter people who are in need of behavioral health services, and continuity of care is often disrupted as the person moves in and out of criminal justice settings. While judges struggle to identify and understand the role of mental illness for defendants in their courtrooms, psychiatrists similarly struggle to help their patients meet the requirements of criminal justice involvement while building a meaningful life in their community.

As leaders in their respective fields, judges and psychiatrists are in a unique position to champion initiatives that address the overrepresentation of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system—initiatives that would ultimately enhance people’s quality of life, improve public health, increase community safety and use public resources more effectively. JPLI creates a marriage between medicine and the judiciary, where passionate experts in both fields can work together to remedy a national crisis.

The program has three core priority areas:

  • Enhance connections between judges and psychiatrists through web-based and in-person trainings, and the development and distribution of a newsletter to engage new judges and psychiatrists;

  • Increase the reach of trainings in order to build the nonclinical skills of court professionals, which will lead to improved patient and public safety outcomes;

  • Develop educational resources to increase understanding among judges and psychiatrists on the latest research and best practices around cultural competence. 

The work of this initiative could not be done without the support of our sponsors:


1,200 judges trained

1,200 judges have been trained over seven years, yet, this only accounts for a small percentage of criminal court judges in the U.S.

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Expanding our reach

JPLI has conducted trainings in over 14 states and Washington, D.C. over the past seven years with more planned for the future.

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JPLI Program Contact

Christopher Seeley, MSW
Program Director, School and Justice Initiatives
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