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Embedding Clinicians in the Criminal Justice System

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2022
2 pages

This brief features ways that embedded clinicians can support mental health and criminal justice collaborations at various phases of criminal justice processing.


In efforts to improve responses and services in crisis calls that may involve persons with mental health disorders, communities may adopt models known as co-responder programs, mobile crisis teams, or crisis stabilization units. These models typically include the hiring of a mental health clinician as a member of a 911 or other non-emergency dispatch call center to assist in screening for cases that may involve persons with mental health needs. This facilitates the identification of and decisions about appropriate responses in emergency calls for service. Clinicians may sometimes be available to resolve crisis calls by phone without sending a clinician to the scene of the emergency call. Law enforcement professionals will typically determine the level of public safety risk prior to coordinating a clinician response. When needed, clinicians may accompany officers to the scene to screen involved individuals for immediate and/or extended mental health assessment and services. Issues addressed in this report through case studies of jurisdictions with embedded clinician services include 1) a clinician-aided approach to crisis responses; 2) a clinician’s role in making connections between jail and court-based diversion programs; and 3) clinician-facilitated reentry planning. Online access is provided to three additional resources.

Date Published: January 1, 2022