In order to address mental health needs in your community, certain court and community responses must be developed early on. The best practices recommended on this website build the foundation for improving the court and community responses to mental health and co-occurring disorders.
The most effective approach is to design responses that are regularly engaged in by community collaborators. The resources on this webpage build on the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM), which identifies appropriate responses at particular intercepts that can keep an individual from continuing to penetrate the criminal justice system. Additionally, effective court and community responses require interventions prior to engagement in the criminal justice system.
This website highlights several additional areas of focus that, if engaged in proactively, can create necessary support structures and prevent justice system involvement for those with mental health disorders. These additional practices address physical and behavioral health needs, pre-crisis community resources, family and public outreach, civil justice needs, and data and information sharing.
Finally, meaningful system change requires leadership. Courts, and judges in particular, are in a unique position to convene stakeholders and to lead such a group to consensus and action. This website begins with leading change resources specifically designed for judges.
Every community will be at a different place with each of these practices. As you look through the various recommendations, consider your own community and the best way to use these tools to build a structure of support for mental health issues within it. Your community may require additional practices or approaches not listed below.
The 2020 pandemic imposed a new reality on all aspects of our society, including both the justice and the behavioral health systems. By necessity face to face interactions are reserved for the rare circumstance, and for most interactions remote or virtual technology options have emerged.
Generally, research tells us that using remote technology solutions for screening and assessment, competency evaluations, behavioral health treatment, and community supervision produces outcomes that are as good or better than in-person versions of the same interventions. As we rebuild our systems of service delivery post-pandemic we may want to consider when and where continuing to use tele-services, even when in-person options are available, might be less expensive and just as effective.
This intercept addresses the escalation of mental health and behavioral needs following a mental health crisis but without the involvement of law enforcement.
Law enforcement play a gatekeeper role to the criminal justice system and contact with law enforcement provides opportunities for diversion to a response that more effectively addresses mental health crises.
Initial detention and court hearings provide the first opportunity for broader criminal justice system partners to be involved in mental and behavioral health responses.
This intercept addresses the importance of continued and concerted mental health responses in the criminal justice system.
This intercept focuses on an individual’s post-incarceration life. Reentry must be well-planned, resourced, and individual-centric to help set individuals up for success.
As an extension of the justice system, parole and probation balance justice-system monitoring with individual-focused service coordination to establish a safe and healthy life outside of the justice system.