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Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Workshops

Supporting community-based responses for people with behavioral health disorders

at Stake

of people in jail have serious mental illness

People with behavioral health needs are overrepresented in the criminal justice system. Seventeen percent of people in local jails have experienced a serious mental illness. In the general population, the rate is just 4 percent (Abreu et al., 2017). In addition, 63 percent of people in jail or prison have a substance use disorder. But only one in five of them receive drug treatment while incarcerated (Abreu et al., 2017).

Law enforcement often responds to calls about low-level crimes or quality-of-life calls. . Minor crimes often happen because the people involved need help with a behavioral health issue. Ideally, officers could easily connect these people with mental or substance use treatment. When that isn’t possible or simple, these individuals end up in the criminal justice system instead. This has many negative results. People in this situation are less likely to make bail and more likely to lose employment and housing, face longer sentences, and cycle through the system.

Our Solution

The Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Workshop encourages collaboration between the behavioral health and criminal justice systems. Participants consider the situation faced by people in their area with behavioral health needs. They explore how these individuals become involved with and flow through the criminal justice system. Through this process, stakeholders figure out what supports or services these individuals need and whether they already exist in the community. This allows participants to create a map of the local system. The map outlines gaps, opportunities, and resources for adults with mental and substance use disorders.

Once stakeholders have their cross-systems map, the group sets priorities for action. These priorities focus on improving responses for adults with mental and substance use disorders, both at the network and service level. The facilitators tell participants about examples of best practices and evidence-based practices from around the country. This allows stakeholders to learn from other communities, using these examples to shape local decisions. The mapping event culminates with the creation of a local strategic plan. The plan is based on the gaps, resources, and priorities identified during the mapping process.

With the Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Workshop, communities can:

  • improve the early identification of adults with behavioral health needs in the criminal justice system;
  • increase effective connections to complete, appropriate, and integrated services in the community;
  • reduce the chances that people will cycle in and out of the criminal justice system;
  • promote and support recovery;
  • enhance public safety; and
  • improve quality of life for all.

Our Model

Mark Munetz, M.D., Patricia A. Griffin, Ph.D., and Henry J. Steadman, Ph.D., developed the linear Sequential Intercept Model. The model highlights opportunities for community-based responses for people with mental and substance use disorders involved in the criminal justice system. It does this by outlining a series of moments, called intercepts, when such an individual faces possible alternatives. At each intercept, the individual could either be connected with treatment services or end up going deeper into the criminal justice system.

The Sequential Intercept Model covers six intercepts. Each highlights a key part of the criminal justice process:

  • Community services: Community responses to individuals in a behavioral health crisis. Emergency medical services, fire departments, and law enforcement often provide these responses. Crisis hotlines, mobile crisis teams, peer crisis services, and other parts of the crisis response continuum may also be the point of contact at this intercept.
  • Law enforcement: Law enforcement and emergency service responses to people with mental and substance use disorders.
  • Initial detention and initial court hearings: When a person is detained before an initial hearing overseen by a judge or magistrate. Detention may happen in a police station, a local jail, or a court lock-up.
  • Jails and courts: This intercept covers people in custody who haven’t had a trial yet and those whose charges have reached an outcome (e.g., the person was convicted, or prosecution was deferred). Individuals who are convicted may be sentenced to jail or prison, or their case may be transferred to a post-plea treatment court.
  • Reentry: A person’s transition from jail or prison back to the community. This moment presents a need for continuity of care.
  • Community corrections: Correctional supervision of individuals in contact with the criminal justice system outside of incarceration. Supervision is usually provided through probation or parole.

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