Affiliations:Tisch Community Health Prize
Ann-Marie Louison, Co-Director of Adult Behavioral Health at the Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (CASES), is a NYC leader working at the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice. She is credited with identifying a serious problem—the overuse and ineffectiveness of incarceration and repeated hospital use of individuals with serious behavioral health needs—and developing an array of effective interventions that address both public health and public safety. Her work has fundamentally changed the way NYC Courts respond to people with behavioral health needs.
Among her achievements, she co-founded the Nathaniel Project, NYC’s first alternative-to-incarceration program in Manhattan Supreme Court for individuals with serious and persistent mental illness facing prison due to felony convictions. It was named for a homeless man whose schizophrenia went untreated for fifteen years as he cycled in and out of the criminal justice system.
In the past 15 years, CASES’ Nathaniel Assertive Community Treatment Program has enabled over 400 people with serious mental illness and felony convictions to receive treatment and remain safely in the community with excellent outcomes—including reductions in psychiatric emergency room visits, multiple psychiatric hospitalizations, incidence of harmful behavior, and homelessness.
In the words of reference Dr. William Breitbart:
“Ann-Marie is one of those exceptional and extraordinary people that…has the potential to change your life, because you learn something vital and essential about the meaning and purpose of our lives and the contributions we can make to others. Ann-Marie has taught me that true change is possible, where change was never even a consideration.”
For her steadfast commitment to improving the lives of mentally ill people involved in the criminal justice system, while driving a progressive agenda of system change, Ann-Marie Louison was awarded the fifth annual Joan H. Tisch Community Health Prize.