Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Collaboration

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As policy and related resources have shifted care for those with mental illness from institutional to community care, local county jails in many ways have become de facto mental health treatment and housing providers. Local and state government officials are seeking ways to divert people with mental illness from the criminal justice system and increase the capacity to provide care in local communities. Evidence shows that one of the most effective ways to do that is through increased collaboration between the behavioral health and criminal justice systems.

Collaboration is accomplished through:

  • Building a leadership coalition that understands the local interactions between the criminal justice and behavioral health systems, and identifies the gaps and needs to improve services to individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system,

  • Establishing an action agenda, and

  • Increasing awareness and understanding of issues related to mental health in jails.

A tool that is often used to document the framework for collaboration between the behavioral health and criminal justice systems is the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM).

Sequential Intercept Model

Faculty and staff at the Institute of Government have been trained by the national leaders who developed the SIM to provide Georgia-specific mapping workshops.

A SIM Mapping Workshop is a way to map a local solution to a national problem: the over-incarceration of those with a mental illness and/or substance use disorder, known as a co-occurring disorder. Institute of Government staff can deliver a one and a half day SIM mapping workshop at no cost to help your community answer these critical questions:

  • How and when does a person with a mental illness come into contact with and move through the criminal justice system in our community?

  • Where are the points the person can be diverted out of the criminal justice system in our community?

  • Where are the gaps that prevent diversion?

  • Where are the opportunities for cross-intercept and cross-system collaboration in our community?