Coordinating Centers of Excellence


The Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence (CJ CCoE) was established in May 2001 to promote jail diversion alternatives for people with mental illness throughout Ohio. The Center is funded by a grant from the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to the County of Summit Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board. The ADM Board contracts with the Northeast Ohio Medical University to operate the Center. The CJ CCoE also works in close cooperation with the National Alliance on mental Illness of Ohio (NAMI), the Ohio Office of Criminal Justice Services, and the Ohio Attorney General Task Force on Criminal Justice and Mental Illness

Believing that it is not a crime to have a mental illness, the CJ CCoE hopes to reverse the trend in what has become known as “criminalization of the mentally ill.” This complex problem requires complex solutions. The CJ CCoE promotes the Sequential Intercept Model, to assist communities in systematically approaching efforts to divert people with mental disorders from unnecessary arrest and incarceration.

The CJ CCoE welcomes opportunities to partner with communities throughout Ohio to develop programs at any level of intercept. We believe the essential ingredient for any successful jail diversion program is partnership across systems. All key players in all aspects of the mental health, addiction, and criminal justice communities need to talk regularly and forge a commitment to work together. We are eager to help make this happen throughout Ohio.


It is the vision of the CJ CCoE that the mental health and criminal justice systems will work together to improve the quality of life of those residents of Ohio who suffer from mental disorders and who are at risk of finding their way unnecessarily into the criminal justice system.


The mission of the CJ CCoE is to encourage communities throughout Ohio to forge collaborative relationships between the mental health and criminal justice systems so that individuals with mental disorders receive the care they need.


The goal of the CJ CCoE is for each county in Ohio to develop an array of programs that will divert people with mental disorders from jail and keep people with mental disorders in treatment.


  • To identify the best mental health practices to successfully divert people with mental illness from the criminal justice system to treatment.
  • To work with the Bureau of Criminal Justice and Ohio Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services to provide technical Assistance to OhioMHAS funded programs and to those municipalities and counties interested in developing diversion alternatives.
  • To serve as a laboratory of sorts, continuing to pilot, fine tune and evaluate promising models and/or emerging best practices in mental health-criminal justice areas.
  • To identify “partners” from around the state to participate in our efforts.
  • To serve as a jail diversion development resource to Ohio ADAMH Boards.

Background on the Criminalization of Mental Illness

The problem of “criminalization of mental illness”

The CJ CCoE was established in recognition that Ohio has not escaped the national problem that has been commonly referred to as criminalization of the mentally ill. The largest institutions for people with mental disorders are now our nation’s jails and prisons. The police have become first responders when persons with mental illness are in crisis. Judges struggle with how best to respond to individuals with mental illness who increasingly present on their docket.

Complex solutions to complex problems: The CJ CCoE and its partners recognize that this criminalization phenomenon has multiple causes and requires community-wide partnerships to develop systematic solutions. Collaboration between all stakeholders is necessary if people with serious mental disorders are to be diverted from unnecessary incarceration to appropriate treatment.

For Ohio communities interested in developing jail diversion programs, the CJ CCoE provides technical assistance in the following areas:
  • Identifying and convening key stakeholders to build community collaboration and encourage cross-system understanding
  • Planning and implementing Sequential Intercept Mapping and Taking Action for Change work-shops
  • Promoting diversion programs at all intercepts of the criminal justice system
  • Planning and implementing Crisis Intervention Team programs and training for emergency first responders
  • Promoting and implementing research that will inform best practices for jail diversion initiatives
  • Disseminating information regarding best practices in jail diversion throughout the state and nation

Sequential Intercept Model

Working with the National GAINS Center, the CJ CCoE has been elaborating a model to encourage communities to approach jail diversion systematically, at multiple levels. The Sequential Intercept Model proposes that there are a number of “points of interceptions” or opportunities where an intervention can be made with a person with mental illness that will keep that individual from entering or going “deeper” into the criminal justice system. Conceptually, more people will be intercepted at each level than at the subsequent level. The current model includes:

  • The Ultimate Intercept: Best clinical practices in an accessible mental health system
  • Pre-Arrest Diversion: Law enforcement/emergency services (e.g. CIT)
  • Post-Arrest: Initial detention/initial hearings
  • Post-initial hearings: Jail, courts, forensic evaluations, and forensic commitments
  • Reentry from jails, state prisons, and forensic hospitalization
  • Community corrections and community support

Stepping Up Initiative

The primary objective of the National Stepping Up Initiative is to reduce the number of individuals with mental illnesses in jails throughout the nation.  Stepping Up invites communities to collaborate with the goal of developing an action plan that will be utilized to achieve a detectible impact in their local criminal justice systems

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) is collaborating with Ohio communities to support that common objective.  This collaboration engages a wide range of individuals, including policymakers, criminal justice professionals, consumers, mental health professionals and committed others.  OhioMHAS began utilizing Community Innovations grants to help this objective become a reality.  As of September 17, 2019, the Ohio Stepping Up Initiative has engaged 47 Ohio communities.


Phone: 330.325.6861

Ohio Criminal Justice Coordinating Center of Excellence

A NEOMED Coordinating Center of Excellence

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