Criminal Justice and Behavior

Utilizing Crisis Intervention Teams in Prison to Improve Officer Knowledge, Stigmatizing Attitudes, and Perception of Response Options

People with mental illness (MI) are overrepresented in prisons, in part, because people with MI stay in prison longer. Correctional officers (COs) use discretion in force, violations, and segregation. Crisis intervention teams (CITs) are being used in corrections to reduce disparities in sanctioning and improve safety. This quasi-experimental, mixed-methods study includes 235 CIT COs who were surveyed before and after training on knowledge of MI, stigmatizing attitudes, and perception of response options. Non-CIT (n = 599) officers completed the same survey. Randomly selected CIT COs completed interviews 6 to 9 months following training (n = 17). CIT COs had significantly lower stigmatizing attitudes, more mental health knowledge, and better perceptions of options following CIT training compared with non-CIT COs. This preliminary
work on CIT use in prison is promising; additional work is needed to determine whether these changes result in behavior change among COs and improvements in outcomes for people with MI.

Crisis Intervention Team Training in a Correctional Setting: Examining Compliance, Mental Health Referrals, and Use of Force

The Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) model was developed as a specialized police-based program in which officers are trained to safely interact with individuals with mental illnesses. In 2011, the Minnesota Department of Corrections adapted this program for corrections. This study compares prison incidents involving CIT officers to a comparison sample of non-CIT incidents on a number of outcomes, including gaining compliance from people in custody (either immediately or as an incident unfolds), making mental health referrals, and using force against people in custody. We conducted a content analysis of reports describing 500 incidents in an all-male, maximum security prison and estimated multivariate binary logistic models
to control for characteristics of situations, incarcerated people, and employees. The findings provide some support for implementing CIT training in a correctional setting, but some less encouraging results show that improvements to the program are
still needed