The Behavioral Health Task Force

Implementing targeted strategies and appropriate treatment at every stage of the criminal justice system will reduce the number of people with behavioral health needs in City jails.

  • Despite our success in reducing the overall jail population, the number of people with behavioral health issues has stayed largely constant, with individuals with behavioral health issues comprising a bigger and bigger percentage of the total number incarcerated.
  • While in FY 2010, people with mental illness were only 29% of the NYC jail population, today they represent 38% of the overall jail population; approximately 7% of the jail population is made up of individuals with serious mental illness, meaning that they suffer from diseases such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

Announced in December 2014, the Mayor's Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System's Action Plan is a comprehensive roadmap to drive down crime while also reducing the number of people with behavioral health issues needlessly cycling through the criminal justice system. Read the complete Action Plan.




Key strategies include:

  • Diversion to services, instead of arrest, for people who do not pose a public safety risk. Among other initiatives, the City will open two clinical drop-off community centers to assess needs and provide short-term behavioral health care, provide training on recognizing and dealing with behavioral health needs to all police officers, and add 2,300 slots citywide to supervised release programs.
  • Therapeutic treatment in jail. Among other initiatives, the City will improve officer and inmate safety by deploying Crisis Intervention Teams comprised of corrections and health workers, reduce punitive segregation, and create specialized units to provide preventative services to inmates with behavioral health issues.
  • Expanded re-entry services that set people up to never return. Among other initiatives, the City will provide in-jail discharge planning teams to connect people to Medicaid, the Human Resources Administration, Health Homes and other available programs and services as well as create 267 supportive, permanent housing slots to reduce emergency room, shelter, and jail use.


The Task Force spent 100 days developing dozens of interlocking public health and public safety strategies that are being jointly implemented by the Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, the New York Police Department, the Department of Correction, the Department of Probation, the District Attorneys, the Courts, and the Administration of Children's Services.

This Action Plan is an unprecedented, $130 million investment - of which $40 million is asset forfeiture funds contributed by the District Attorney of Manhattan - and a key component of the Mayor's commitment to reduce unnecessary arrests and incarceration, direct criminal justice resources to where they will have the greatest public safety impact, and make the system more fair.

Click here for a complete list of Task Force participants.