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Forensic Peer Support Project

What is Forensic Peer Support?

FPS is a person-centered, strength based support system offered to individuals with Mental health and/or co-occurring challenges become involved in the criminal justice system. Forensic Peer Support starts from initial contact with law enforcement all the way through re-entry into the community after release from incarceration. 

What is a Forensic Peer Support Specialist

What they do:

  • Support people during their involvement in the Criminal Justice System
  • Promote Recovery Principles including Self-Advocacy 
  • Advocate for recipients of behavioral healthcare when they are unable to advocate for themselves
  • Educate all stakeholders in the Criminal Justice System about Mental health Recovery
  • Inspire hope through shared life experiences

Settings they are Effective in:

  • Crisis Intervention Teams
  • State Hospitals
  • Emergency Rooms
  • Jails/Prisons
  • Courts/Specialty Courts
  • Halfway Houses
  • Mental Health Offices
  • Community Settings

Qualities of Peer Supports: 

  1. Assist individuals with understanding and navigating the Criminal Justice System
  2. Aid in finding and utilizing resources to gain and sustain employment and housing
  3. Help individuals to complete parole/probation requirements
  4. Reduce the time Mental Health Consumers stay in jail/prison due to the lack of community supports, housing options and resources
  5. Identify positive supports and pro-social associates, thus targeting a peer centered reduction of criminogenic factors


Two initial trainings were held in Dauphin County in March of 20011 and the in Allegheny county in April of 2011 in order to broaden the number of individuals who were eligible to become trainers through participation in the "Train the Trainers" sessions. Over the course of the initial year, two of these "Train the Trainer" sessions and nine regional trainings were facilitated throughout the state. 

A total of 162 individuals completed the training sessions. Of those, 43 became trainers, and 5 became advanced level facilitators. 


Lynn Keltz, former Exec. Director of PMHCA, testified on May 9th, 2013 at the Pennsylvania House Democratic Policy Committee Hearing on Mental Health Issues in the Criminal Justice System. View

Goal of the Project:

The Goal of the project is to help state and county governments, along with related service providers, divert individuals with mental illnesses and/or co-occurring substance use disorders to trained Certified Peer Specialists in their local areas to begin Forensic Peer Support to start them on their mental health recovery journeys rather than entering them into the criminal justice system. 

The project also aimed to assist those already involved in the criminal justice system focus on their paths to recovery. 

OMHSAS recognizes peer support as a key part in creating a recovery-oriented mental health system. This project was seen as another step toward enhancing this ideal. The project was also expected to lead to an increase in employment opportunities for Certified Peer Specialists and, ultimately, a reduction of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system.

Schedule a training

PMHCA is available for contract to facilitate the three day Forensic Peer Support training with any interested party in or outside of Pennsylvania. 

For more information, please contact

Read More

Learn More

Resources on Forensic Peer Support and its impact are available HERE.

Link to Pennsylvania Mental Health and Justice Center of Excellence Website.

Office Phone: 717.221.1022

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or Text 9-8-8

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