Stepping Up to Keep the Mentally Ill Out of Jail

Paul Seeman pic

Paul Seeman

A former judge in Oakland, California, Paul Seeman has a great deal of experience with the intersection of mental health and criminal justice concerns. During his tenure with the Alameda County Superior Court, Paul Seeman was a member of the Judicial Council Task Force for Criminal Justice Collaboration on Mental Health Issues. As the jail and prison population of inmates with mental health illnesses increases at an alarming rate, a national Stepping Up Initiative has been launched to address the problem. Over 270 counties across the nation have joined the Stepping Up Initiative.

More than 2 million people with serious psychiatric issues are incarcerated each year. The majority of these also have addiction problems. The Stepping Up Initiative addresses the escalating costs for these inmates as well as circumstances causing them to repeatedly cycle through the justice system.

Launched in 2015, the Stepping Up Initiative rallies leaders around the common goal of reducing the number of patients with mental illness and substance abuse disorders in prisons. A summit was held in Washington D.C. for jail administrators, law enforcement officials, politicians, psychiatrists and other personnel from 50 jurisdictions over 37 states in April 2016. These professionals hope to implement nationally local and state models successfully providing necessary mental illness treatment keeping inmates from returning to prison.

Maintaining the Dipsea Trail

 

A former judge, Paul Seeman served in the Alameda County Superior Court for four years. He was appointed to the Judicial Council Task Force for Criminal Justice Collaboration on Mental Health Issues, and helped establish the Alameda County Collaborative Juvenile Court. Outside of his professional life, Paul Seeman enjoys running. From 1987 through 2010, he participated in the Dipsea Race trail running event in Northern California.

The Dipsea Race is run every year in June along a 7.4-mile course from Mill Valley to Stinson Beach in Marin County. The course features steep trails and stairs, making it a very challenging race. Since 2007, the Dipsea Race Foundation has been engaged in the Dipsea Stairs Renovation Project. These stairs are part of the course and include the 680 steps at the start of the race in Old Mill Park in Mill Valley.

The project is being funded through sponsorship, and about 200 more steps are currently in need of repair. Those interested in preserving a step with a personalized plaque can do so by donating $1,700 to the project. The repairs will ensure that runners on the Dipsea Trail will be able to safely complete the course for decades to come.

The ACJC – Assisting Youth with Mental Illness

Alameda Collaborative Juvenile Court pic

Alameda Collaborative Juvenile Court
Image: bhcs.co.alameda.ca.us

Former judge Paul Seeman has decades of experience practicing and teaching law, in addition to serving as a judge in the Alameda County Superior Court. During his career, he was nominated for and earned a number of awards, including the Wilmont Sweeney Juvenile Court Judge of the Year Award in 2009. Paul Seeman received this award in recognition of his work in establishing the Alameda Collaborative Juvenile Court.

The Alameda Collaborative Juvenile Court (ACJC) was created with the resolve to help youths with mental illness, instead of criminalizing them unnecessarily. By collaborating with and improving coordination between the mental health and juvenile justice systems, the ACJC seeks to help young people with mental health issues receive the support they need to remain in their communities and become well-adjusted adults. Services that are provided through this court include mental health treatment, intensive case management, medication, and help from social workers and educational specialists.