The Tri-Branch Task Force (TBTF) is a joint effort of Vermont's judicial, executive, and legislative branches, supporters, and customers. Together they work to improve the criminal justice system for people with mental illness and substance use problems. The goal of the task force is to improve public safety and public health, and reduce crime.
The Chief Justice Task Force on Criminal Justice and Mental Health Collaboration began in August 2007 with a grant from the Council of State Governments. Decision-makers came together to support new ideas to help people with mental illness and substance abuse disorders. They hoped to move such people out of the criminal justice system and into treatment as soon as they entered the system.
By July 2008 the task force had completed a plan. Task force members used the term “criminal justice capable” to describe their vision of a criminal system that meets people's mental health needs. Work groups were created to develop objectives to achieve the goals of the plan.
In December 2014 the group produced the "Tri-Branch Task Force Extended and Revised Charge and Destination." It provided a history of development from the Chief Justice Task Force to the Tri-Branch Task Force, which included leaders from all three branches of government: the chief justice from the Judiciary, the secretary of the Agency of Human Services from the executive branch, and a House representative from the Legislature.
Statement of Purpose
The Tri-Branch Task Force is a joint effort of the Judiciary, Agency of Human Services, and Legislature to coordinate state approaches for people with mental illness and co-occurring disorders at risk of entering or already involved in the criminal justice system.
The task force designs approaches to respect individuals and their rights. It engages the least restrictive and proper community services on their behalf. Its goal is to improve public safety and public health, reduce crime, and use taxpayer dollars wisely.
Goals of the Task Force
- Develop criminal justice models, teams, and programs that understand the relationship between law enforcement, hospital emergency departments, crisis workers, prosecutors, defense counsel, courts, human services, and treatment
- Develop ways to share assessment, case management, service information, and resources within existing systems to respond to individual needs to divert people from the criminal justice system
- Increase the awareness and use of local-level alternatives to the criminal justice system
- Develop, adopt, and fund models that increase and fill gaps in services
- Improve knowledge to better respond to people with impaired functioning who are involved with the criminal justice system
The task force will:
- Support the development of services and case management that ensures community-based treatment and support from intensive treatment to recovery options
- Support tools and training that will educate people about mental health and substance use conditions and support alternatives to the criminal justice system
- Support the increased use of evidence-based screening and assessment tools for people with reduced functioning to divert them from the criminal justice system to the appropriate level of care
- Support the integration of this model with other initiatives: co-occurring, trauma, domestic violence, housing, and treatment court programs
- Support grant proposals that further the work of the Tri-branch Task Force and provide oversight and guidance for the implementation of the grant-funded projects that directly impact this work
Honorable Paul L. Reiber
Chair, Chief Justice, Vermont Supreme Court
Representative Alice Emmons
Vacancy from the Agency of Human Services
Honorable Brian Grearson
Chief Superior Judge
A. J. Ruben, Esq.
Court Administrator's Office
109 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05609