The Criminal Mental Health Program was originally established to divert nonviolent misdemeanant defendants with SMI and possible co-occurring substance use disorders, from the criminal justice system into community-based treatment and support services. Since that time, the program has been expanded to serve defendants that have been arrested for less serious felonies and other charges as determined appropriate.
All defendants who are arrested and booked into the jail are screened for signs and symptoms of mental illnesses. Those who are identified as being in possible psychiatric distress are referred to corrections health services’ psychiatric staff for more thorough evaluation. Individuals charged with misdemeanors who meet program admission criteria (SMI diagnosis and need for acute care services) are transferred from the jail to a community-based crisis stabilization unit within 24 to 48 hours of booking.
Individuals charged with felonies are referred to the CMHP through a number of sources including the Public Defender’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, private attorneys, judges, corrections health services, and family members. All participants must meet diagnostic and legal criteria as well as eligibility requirements for accessing entitlement benefits such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), and Medicaid. All participants must voluntarily consent to mental health treatment and services. At present, only individuals charged with third degree felonies are eligible for program participation, and all referrals must be approved by the State Attorney’s Office, with the consent of victims when appropriate.
Upon stabilization, legal charges may be dismissed or modified in accordance with treatment engagement. Individuals who voluntarily agree to services are assisted with linkages to a comprehensive array of community-based treatment, support, and housing services that are essential for successful community re-entry and recovery outcomes. The CMHP utilizes the APIC Model to provide transition planning for all program participants. This is a nationally recognized best practice model that provides a set of critical elements that improve outcomes for people with mental illnesses and co-occurring substance use disorders that are released from jails. CMHP staff Assess, Plan, Identify, and Coordinate transition plans that are individualized for each program participant. The goal is to support community living, reduce maladaptive behaviors, and decrease the chances that individuals will re-offend and reappear in the criminal justice system.