The Center for Mental Health, Policy, and the Law (CMHPL) fosters integrative scholarship to advance empirical knowledge, training, and practice in forensic mental health. The CMHPL’s mission is to address the most urgent issues arising at the interface of mental health and the law, in order to help justice-involved people with mental illness lead full and productive lives.

We strive to

  • support evidence-based treatments in forensic and correctional settings 
  • offer empirically-supported assessment and intervention practices for individuals with mental illness across points-of-contact with the criminal justice system, including justice-involved veterans and adolescents. 
  • engage family members and community partners to provide multi-sector support to individuals that are at highest risk of interacting with the criminal legal system
  • enhance law and policy by educating policymakers on both the problems and evidence-based solutions related to mental health, behavioral, and psycho-legal issues, including civil commitment, criminal responsibility, competence, surrogate decision-making, confidentiality, evidence-based treatment in forensic settings, and juvenile justice. 
  • train and educate the next generation of scholars and practitioners in forensic mental health as well as people at the immediate intersection of law and mental illness, such as first responders. 

Three pillars

We have organized our center around three pillars of excellence: education and training, research and policy, and service. These pillars will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation by removing barriers between researchers, policymakers, educators and clinicians.

Our mission includes training psychiatrists and psychologists for service with justice-involved patients with mental illness, as well as other professionals working at the interface of mental health and the law. Our priority is to offer broad-based training experiences in the areas of criminal law, public sector forensic mental health, and research/scholarship. We strive to develop leaders in forensic psychiatry and psychology, influencing the direction of clinical practice, research, education, and mental health policy at the national and international levels. CMHPL faculty work to educate interdisciplinary professionals — in law enforcement and mental health, among others — to enhance their work with justice-involved individuals with mental health needs. Faculty also train medical students, psychiatry residents, psychology trainees, and clinical and research fellows across a broad range of relevant disciplines.

Faculty affiliated with the CMHPL study a broad range of issues at the intersection of law, mental health, ethics, and correctional systems that will advance empirical knowledge and practice in forensic mental health. We engage in interdisciplinary and integrative scholarship using a range of methodological approaches that will inform changes in practice and policy. We unite policy with science so that policymakers can help bring evidence into practice. Faculty consult on legislation and policy at the state and national level, focusing on public policy changes that better serve mental health communities.

Our experts offer psycho-legal consultation on civil, criminal, and healthcare matters.