Barry County Sheriff Dar Leaf attended a Mental Health and Criminal Justice Strategic Summit hosted by the Justice Center, the Council of State Governments, in November.
Experts spoke on incarcerated or homeless people and the community justice system and behavioral health. The focus was the justice system’s ability to identify those with mental or substance abuse problems, how to divert them from jail or prison and also to reduce recidivism.
Policy Research Associates presented the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM), a method for achieving community-based solutions for people with those issues who are involved in justice systems.
The SIM offers five steps from first contact of those with behavioral problems and the justice system, key steps for each intercept, and the challenges in each step.
To be effective, all intercepts require cross system collaboration by the agencies involved, identification of those with mental or substance abuse issues, access for treatment, support treatment from Social Security and Medicaid, information sharing and measurement of performance by health, criminal justice and housing providers.
Leaf credited the Barry County Mental Health Department for its critical role and its cooperation with the sheriff’s office. “From its leadership, right down through the staff, we have an excellent working relationship for the very much needed professional services they provide for the facility.”
Leaf said as the state closed most mental health facilities, the jails became where those with mental issues wound up, when none of the facilities were prepared. “We’re doing the best we can for the short and long term future of the community,” he said
“It’s a nationwide problem. If someone has a mental health crisis, we end up having to put them somewhere, and it’s often it’s jail; usually a crime has been committed,’ he said.
“Deputies learned to recognize early stages of mental issues and who to call. Everyone who has physical contact with someone brought into our jail has had the training.”
At the summit, Barry County was recognized with other counties for their efforts to divert those with mental issues from jail, and its pilot programs. Leaf noted. The State of Michigan is also working to improve of the sharing of health information and better recidivism tracking, among other efforts. Attendants were given a list of 10 national and state resources to help with their programs.
The SIM was developed by Mark Munetz, MD, Patricia S. Griffin, PhD and Henry J. Steadman, PhD in the early 2000s. It has been refined and tested over several years.