Posts tagged "CIT Training"

Paton’s Presentation at the Riley Institute

August 7th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Paton’s Presentation at the Riley Institute”

Here is Paton’s presentation at the Riley Institute last week. He had the honor of speaking along side of others involved with criminal justice system in SC. Together they discussed experiences and possibilities for improving SC’s justice and prison system, including how to better treat mentally ill individuals who may end up in said system.

Police, Prisons, and Public Safety

July 30th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Police, Prisons, and Public Safety”

July 30th, 2015

Paton spoke the other night at the Riley Institute on his past experiences with law enforcement and prisons in South Carolina. He covered his current advocacy work with CIT training and how it has improved the outcomes for police enounters with mentally ill individuals. He was also able to speak on the importance of mental health courts, and how the recent mental health court program act that passed in the SC legislature will help improve the lives mentally ill inmates.

I was incredibly honored to be invited to speak at this event tonight that included the Chief of police from Charleston, the Director of the SCDOC, The Director of The SCPPP, The Sheriff of Richland County and several more distinct advocates in our community including Stuart Andrews of Nelson Mullins. – Paton

The Riley Institute at Furman is also still having presentations for the next couple of weeks on prisons and the justice system in South Carolina! You can learn more about the Riley Institute’s Summer Series on their website, and how to purchase tickets. Straight Talk SC Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell

riley-at-furman-logo

Crime & Punishment – Paton Speaking at the Riley Institute Summer Series

July 3rd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Crime & Punishment – Paton Speaking at the Riley Institute Summer Series”

July 3rd, 2015

On July 28th, Paton will be speaking at Straight Talk SC, Crime and Punishment: Thinking Outside the Cell, a summer series of presentations put on by the Riley Institute at Furman University, SC.

On the 28th, session moderator Mark Quinn will host a conversation with community members and law enforcement officers looking at the challenges facing police and the communities which they serve. Paton will be among the presenters on this day where he will talk about being arrested and sent to prison due to actions related to Bipolar I Disorder. He will also talk about his recovery work through advocacy for mental health reform, such as pushing for the passing of the Mental Health Court Program Act, and teaching CIT training to local law enforcement.

From the Riley Institute’s Website

It is clear that something is broken in today’s criminal justice system. The massive growth in American prisons over the last four decades has burdened tax payers, overcrowded the prisons, and devastated vulnerable communities. Strong economic arguments as well as compelling compassionate reasons exist for why we can no longer maintain the status quo.

This year’s summer series will examine the data around crime, incarceration and the impact of our existing system of justice on communities, discuss our state’s law enforcement and prison system practices in light of historical and contemporary contexts, and highlight innovative programs that are being implemented in South Carolina.

Stay tuned for more information and coverage of this event in the near future!

It’s Outrageous: Jails and Prisons Are No Place to Treat Mental Illness; Just Ask Paton Blough

May 22nd, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Articles, Media, Published Media 1 thought on “It’s Outrageous: Jails and Prisons Are No Place to Treat Mental Illness; Just Ask Paton Blough”

May 22nd, 2015

The Huffington Post has published a piece on the cruelty and injustice in US prisons towards inmates with mental illnesses. Paton is featured in the article where he talks about his experiences with the justice system and prisons as a person with bipolar. The article and Paton also takes the time to talk about CIT training and how it can help aid law enforcement when dealing with mentally ill individuals.

You can read the full article on the Huffington Post website.

Human Rights Watch has released a report, Callous and Cruel, on the “unnecessary, excessive, and even malicious force” used in jails and prison to control inmates with mental illness. It’s an issue that NAMI has long been concerned with, except that it’s more than an issue or a concern.

It’s an outrage that should shock the conscience of America and we need your help to change it.

People unfortunately often end up in jail or prison when they don’t get effective treatment for mental illness. In another report this year, Incarceration’s Front Door, the Vera Institute of Justice found that more than two million people with mental illness are booked into county jails alone, but as many as 80 percent don’t get treatment after they arrive.

Better outcomes include recovery and wellness.. NAMI South Carolina leader Paton Blough’s story serves as inspiration. At the age of 26, he was jailed after onset of a manic episode. Over three years he was arrested six times and every time, he was convinced police intended to murder him. He received two felony convictions for actions while incarcerated — spitting on a guard and threatening a public official. Financially he was ruined. He lost his home in foreclosure, his marriage and contact with his children.

As part of recovery, Paton had to overcome the stigma he himself internalized. His actions weren’t a reflection of bad character, but instead medical illness. Today, he helps train police officers for CIT programs.

Paton’s most dramatic moment in recovery came when 30 police officers applauded him after his first presentation–including one who previously had arrested him.

You can read the full article on the Huffington Post website.

Paton Speaking Live in DC for Stepping Up

May 5th, 2015 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Paton Speaking Live in DC for Stepping Up”

May 5th, 2015

Paton is Speaking Up today alongside of US Senator Al Franken and US Representative Patrick Kennedy and other mental health speakers! Mental health is an issue where all political sides can come together and find mental health treatments and alternatives to jail for people with mental illnesses.

You can view this event live on Stepping Up’s stream!



Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Stepping Up is a national initiative designed to push counties nationwide to work on access to mental health treatment and alternatives to jail for people with mental illnesses. NAMI is working with a powerful coalition of national organizations, including the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties, the American Psychiatric Foundation and numerous law enforcement, mental health and substance abuse organizations. The initiative will challenge county, state and local leaders to work together to find solutions that work for the local community. Counties will be asked to follow a step-by-step process to build partnerships, assess current practices and develop a plan to implement research-based programs and services. It will also support local leaders by providing resources and examples of effective reforms and connecting them with other communities that are successfully reducing the number of people with mental illness in jails.

Police Being Sued for Shooting Three Emotionally Disturbed People

October 29th, 2013 Posted by Media, News Commentary 0 thoughts on “Police Being Sued for Shooting Three Emotionally Disturbed People”

After reading this article I was shocked that one of the most progressive cities in America would not have fully implemented Crisis Intervention Teams by now. I want to be careful not to appear like a police basher on my blog, but I want the reader to know why I am so passionate about CIT. I sincerely admire officers that swear to protect perfect strangers with their lives, but with out proper training instituted by upper levels of law enforcement they can unwittingly become perpetrators of crime. CIT training purely and simply saves lives! When organizations like NAMI give CIT training to those officers who are on the front lines about how to de-escalate a mental health crisis, that training saves lives and a lot of money at the same time.

Occasionally, I do like to point a finger at the root of a problem. Keep in mind our current government has failed our country’s mentally ill over the last 50 years. We have reduced the number of psychiatric hospital beds available from 550,000 to 45,000, while growing a mentally ill inmate population of over 1.2 million individuals. Police have to arrest and charge these people and then deal with it all over again when they are released. Only a handful of correction facilities offer meaningful counseling or therapy for prisoners while they are locked up. We treat people with a medical condition worse than our pets and expect them to get better? This could truly be the definition of insanity. Our illustrious elected officials thought that de-institutionalizing the mentally ill would save money while improving lives. Ha! Sorry, Mr. Esteemed Elected Official, if you don’t fund mental health treatments, you end up with an epidemic like we see today that has costs in the billions. Lives have been lost, money has been lost, and we have a police force on the front lines without proper training dealing with this travesty on a daily basis.

CIT training is definitely needed across our nation like never before, but as we push for more training lets not forget the root of the problem and push for meaningful mental health reform!

Excerpt From Article: AlterNet.org

The last words Elsa Cruz heard her husband say, in response to the police officers banging on his locked front door, were: “Don’t knock on my door, it’s against my will.”

She’ll never forget what came next.

“I heard, bluh, bluh, bluh – the sound of the tool as they broke the door down. There was silence, then a loud bang.”

The shot hit her husband, Samuel, a Puerto Rican artist living in New Rochelle, New York, in the chest, and left him dying a pool of blood in their homes.

The encounter that led to the shooting, which happened in May of this year, began when Cruz, 55, called 911 to try to get medical help for her husband, who had become agitated. When police arrived, she told them that he had schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but did not have a weapon. She begged them to allow her to talk to him, but they refused and told her to stay away. She sought refuge in a neighbor’s apartment below the one she shared with her husband, within earshot of the unfolding tragedy.

Read The Full Article: AlterNet.org

Saving Lives, Changing Communities

October 5th, 2013 Posted by Stories of Hope 0 thoughts on “Saving Lives, Changing Communities”

Link To Original Article: National Alliance on Mental Illness


By Laura Usher, NAMI CIT Program Manager

In 1986, when Ann Dino’s injured son Bubba was transported to the hospital in a police car because he had a mental illness and the ambulance wouldn’t take him, she knew things had to change. Dino, then the president of NAMI Memphis, turned to her good friend and fellow NAMI Memphis member at the time, Helen Adamo. Adamo recalls meeting with the mayor and asking him, “How would you like to read the headline tomorrow, ‘Mentally Ill Man Bleeds Out in the Back of a Squad Car’?”

Dino and Adamo were no strangers to calling the police for help when their sons, both living with serious mental illness, were in crisis. Adamo says, “The first time I called the police for my son, they came in with their hands on their guns and their billy clubs and they didn’t know what to do.”

Adamo wrote a proposal for the mayor and city council, asking them to support training for police officers in responding to people with mental illness. Her proposal was based on a team created by the Los Angeles police and focused on the need to reduce injuries of police officers in responding to mental health crisis calls. While some officials were sympathetic, it was a slow going; they pushed the issue for about a year and a half.

Then, in September 1987, Joseph Robinson was shot and killed by Memphis police. Robinson’s mother had called the police because he was hurting himself in the midst of a mental health crisis. Robinson was African American and outrage over the shooting rocked the community.

While community members were calling for the police chief’s resignation, Dino and Adamo looked for a different solution. They approached the mayor with the plan for police mental health training. While speaking at a city council meeting, Dino recalls the crowd pressing against her back. “The police had to escort us out.”

After Robinson’s shooting, things moved quickly. The police chief appointed then-Lt. Walter Crews to head a community taskforce to come up with a response. The taskforce included Dino and Adamo from NAMI Memphis, the heads of the local mental health institutes and the Med, the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. In addition, private mental health providers clamored to be involved in the program. Dino credits Crews’ diplomacy with getting all the players working together.

The taskforce called the new program a crisis intervention team (CIT) and it was built around the partnerships developed through the taskforce. Police training was vital to program’s success, but what made it unique were the personal interactions between individuals with mental illness, their families, mental health professionals and police. Dino says those interactions helped change the way the whole crisis response system worked. “When the officers went to the consumer drop in center and saw consumers who were not in a crisis, saw that they were a real person, that was a tremendous help. Then the professionals rode in the car with officers on involuntary commitment calls…It was an education for everybody. This is what made it work, for everyone to see everything, experience the whole thing.”

After the first CIT training in 1988, Crews handed the reins of the program to Lt. Sam Cochran. Dino recalls being nervous that the program would be handed off to a new person but, she says, “Sam took it into his heart and soul.”

Twenty-five years later, the Memphis CIT program has had remarkable success – cutting injuries to police officers, developing a crisis assessment system for people with mental illness, reducing arrests and improving community relations. Its success has inspired 2,800 communities in 45 states across the country to start CIT programs.

Adamo says that it makes all the difference in the world. Years ago, her family moved to a small town outside of Memphis, and when she had to call police recently, “I asked the officer at the police department, have you had crisis intervention training and he had… It was all the difference in the world. When they come, they know what to do.”

Paton Speaking Alongside Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Patrick Kennedy in DC

May 4th, 2013 Posted by Advocacy, Speaking Events 0 thoughts on “Paton Speaking Alongside Sen. Al Franken and Rep. Patrick Kennedy in DC”

May 4th, 2015

Tomorrow at noon, May 5th, in Washington DC, Paton Blough will be speaking for the Stepping Up initiative, alongside of US Senator Al Franken and US Representative Patrick Kennedy. Mental health is an issue where all political sides can come together and find mental health treatments and alternatives to jail for people with mental illnesses. Here’s hoping that Paton, Senator Franken, Representative Kennedy and other speakers can inspire action throughout the country for mental health reform!

What is Stepping Up?

Stepping Up is a national initiative designed to push counties nationwide to work on access to mental health treatment and alternatives to jail for people with mental illnesses. NAMI is working with a powerful coalition of national organizations, including the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the National Association of Counties, the American Psychiatric Foundation and numerous law enforcement, mental health and substance abuse organizations. The initiative will challenge county, state and local leaders to work together to find solutions that work for the local community. Counties will be asked to follow a step-by-step process to build partnerships, assess current practices and develop a plan to implement research-based programs and services. It will also support local leaders by providing resources and examples of effective reforms and connecting them with other communities that are successfully reducing the number of people with mental illness in jails.

To kick off the initiative there will be four launch events around the country, starting on May 5. The events will be livestreamed here.​ If you can, please join us in person or plan to watch the livestream.

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What People Are Saying

  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
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  • “It has been one of my greatest rewards as NAMI Greenville, SC Program Director to see your recovery from when we first met to your award as NAMI South Carolina’s Recovery Person of the Year to your appearance on the same stage with author Pete Early. I hope your book is every bit as successful as his has been.”

    Brian Lewis
    • Fletcher Mann
    • Program Director NAMI Greenville, SC
  • “It’s incredible. If you aren’t sure, always go for Cast. I don’t always clop, but when I do, it’s because of Cast. I made back the purchase price in just 48 hours!”

    Patrick Bates
    • Patrick Bates
    • CEO, SouthCentral
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