In 2020, SAMHSA’s GAINS Center hosted the State Summit on Behavioral Health and the Justice System in coordination with the Commission to Study Mental and Behavioral Health in Maryland. As a result of this Summit, legislation was passed establishing a Behavioral Health and Public Safety Center of Excellence. This legislation was sponsored by State Senator Kate Fry Hester and State Delegate Joseline Peña-Melnyk. This Center of Excellence was tasked with supporting Maryland communities in reducing the incarceration of individuals with behavioral health needs and providing linkages to treatment. As part of the Center’s regular activities, it must hold an annual summit to share best practices across the state.

In November 2022, the Center held its second annual Summit on Behavioral Health and the Justice System, with SAMHSA’s GAINS Center providing support, facilitation, and subject-matter expertise. Senator Hester and Governor’s Office of Crime Prevention, Youth, & Victim Services Executive Director Kunle Adeyemo provided opening remarks. GAINS Center Senior Project Associate Dan Abreu, MS, CRC, LMHC, was onsite at the Maryland State Summit, presenting on the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) and facilitating strategic plan development. His presentation, “The Sequential Intercept Model,” introduced the SIM and its potential to transform criminal legal and behavioral health systems.

One hundred people from across Maryland attended the Summit and worked together to develop and refine a statewide strategic plan to divert people with mental illness from the criminal justice system and into treatment. The finalized plan will be used as a roadmap for Governor-elect Wes Moore’s administration and the Maryland General Assembly to implement over the coming years.