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April 29, 2024

The Intersection of Deflection, Traumatic Brain Injuries, and Substance Use Disorders Podcast Series, Episode 1: Connecting Brain Injury, Substance Use, and the Criminal Justice System

In this podcast series, the National Association of State Head Injury Administrators (NASHIA) team explores the interconnectivity between brain injury, behavioral health, law enforcement, and the justice system. Through the episodes, the team interviews experts and discusses the prevalence, impacts, and best practices for law enforcement to engage in successful interactions with those living with brain injury and behavioral health conditions. Specific topics covered include:

  • Prevalence of brain injury in behavioral health and the justice system
  • Supporting productive communication between first responders and individuals with lived experience of brain injury
  • Best practices for first responders and successful collaborations to support those at this intersection

Subject-matter experts and guest speakers include Dr. Kim Gorgens (University of Denver), Dr. Ivory Tubbs (Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education), Dr. Charles Smith (former Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Region 8 Administrator), Corporal Jennifer Speith (Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Mental Health Agency), Anastasia Edmunston (Maryland Behavioral Health Administration), Cheryl Kempf (individual with lived experience), The Honorable Scott Cooper (Collaborative Courts, Orange County, California), Caitlin Synovec (National Health Care for the Homeless Council), Angela Klinenberger (individual with lived experience), Dr. Jaclyn Caccese (Ohio State University), Dr. Patricia Kay Reyna (researcher for family and caregiver interventions), and Deputy Josh Walters (Franklin County, Ohio, Sheriff’s Office).

Episode 1: Connecting Brain Injury, Substance Use, and the Criminal Justice System 

Join us for our first episode in a four-part series, as we discuss the intersectionality of brain injury, substance use, and the criminal justice system with Dr. Kim Gorgens, Dr. Ivory Tubbs, and Dr. Charlie Smith. Dr. Gorgens is a professor of psychophysiology, clinical neuropsychology, and psychology of criminal behavior at the University of Denver. After serving in the United States Air Force, Dr. Tubbs began his career in the behavioral health field and today is the technical expert lead for the Behavioral Health Program at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Dr. Smith is the former regional Administrator for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Region 8 and served as the lead federal authority for mental health and substance use. We will be discussing the prevalence of brain injury within the behavioral health and criminal justice populations and how the justice system and community can support these individuals.

Speakers’ Full Bigraphies

  • Dr. Kim Gorgens
    • Kim Gorgens, PhD, is a professor of psychophysiology, clinical neuropsychology, and psychology of criminal behavior at the University of Denver. She manages a large portfolio of brain injury (BI)-related research and has lectured extensively on those issues around the world. Dr. Gorgens has a 2010 TED talk on youth sports concussion and a 2018 TED talk on brain injuries in criminal justice with 3.5 million views. She has been interviewed on CNN with Anderson Cooper, NPR, and 20/20, and her work with brain injuries has been featured in U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, The Economist, and more. Her research studies the reported injury history, cognitive function, and brain biomarkers of all vulnerable populations, including young and older athletes, probationers and inmates, persons who are homeless, and women who have been exposed to interpersonal violence. Dr. Gorgens is board-certified in rehabilitation psychology and is the past-president of the American Psychological Association’s Division on Rehabilitation Psychology. She is also the former vice president of the American Board of Rehabilitation Psychology, a former president of the Colorado Neuropsychological Society, a previous chair of the American Psychological Association Committee on Disability Issues in Psychology, and a former elected representative on the American Psychological Association Council of Representatives. Dr. Gorgens has a small forensic practice with juvenile and death penalty cases and is active in legislative and policy development around best practices in brain injury. Specifically, as part of the Colorado Brain Injury Legislative Collaborative, she was involved in drafting and supporting the 2011 concussion law for the State of Colorado (Senate Bill 40 – The Jake Snakenberg Youth Concussion Act), the 2021 Senate Bill to require screening for brain injuries in the department of corrections, and the 2022 Senate Bill to require that victims of violent crime be screened for brain injury.
  • Dr. Ivory Tubbs (Bio from
    • Prior to earning his doctorate degree in psychology, Dr. Ivory Tubbs served in the United States Air Force during Operation Desert Shield in logistics in 1991. Prior to his discharge from the military, Dr. Tubbs’ career in the mental/behavioral health field began in Las Vegas, Nevada, as a crisis intervention specialist. Later, he transitioned to the role of child development assistant with Clark County Family Services. In 1999, he was appointed as the executive director of Windsor Village Social Services, an agency working in conjunction with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to provide emergency food, shelter, and utility assistance for area residents. In addition to fulfilling his duties as executive director, Dr. Tubbs was also a senior public health investigator with the City of Houston, Bureau of Epidemiology, conducting psychosocial assessments regarding sexual practices and opioid use within the HIV/AIDS community for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). After his simultaneous roles as executive director and senior public health investigator, he began adding to his knowledge base by joining the University of Texas School of Health Sciences Psychiatric Center working with acute and subacute psychosis patients as well as patients in the forensic psychology unit for the Houston Police Department.
  • Dr. Charlie Smith (Excerpts pulled from
    • Charlie Smith, PhD, is a licensed psychologist with over 25 years of clinical experience in fields of forensic psychology, addictions psychology, emergency/crisis intervention, integrated care, and behavioral health policy and administration. In 2011, he was selected as the first regional Administrator for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in Region 8. In this role, Dr. Smith served as the lead federal authority for mental health and substance use and represented the Assistant Secretary for Mental Health and Substance Use in fulfilling the agency’s mission of reducing the impact of mental illness and substance use on America’s communities. Prior to joining SAMHSA, Dr. Smith served as the director of the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health and deputy commissioner of mental health and substance abuse for the State of Colorado. He led the statewide integration of substance use and mental health systems, coordinated initiatives to increase behavioral health workforces, expanded statewide prevention and early intervention programs, advanced community-based behavioral health services and reentry policies for offenders, and developed the state’s first recovery-oriented system of care plan.

Resources and Links

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