This post is three of a three-part series. Read the full series to gain a deeper understanding of Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) Mapping Workshop implementation: Part One | Part Two | Part Three

This is the last blog in a three-part series about my experience transforming Fulton County’s (Georgia) Sequential Intercept Model Mapping Workshop strategic plan into a task force focused on reducing the prevalence of individuals with mental disorders in local jails.

Bringing together a complex, fragmented, and diverse system requires the right people doing the right work at the right time with the right information who can make the right decisions.

In this blog, I will share lessons learned from the Fulton County Justice and Mental Health Task Force project. The project was a multi-agency planning initiative that analyzed the criminal justice system in Fulton County as it is encountered by individuals with mental health conditions.

Lessons Learned

  • Celebrate early wins to keep up the momentum. It’s important to make sure your team/project celebrates the small goals along the way.
  • Participants need to transparently participate. Openness and transparency are key ingredients to building accountability and trust, which are necessary within complex systems.
  • Have a “low-level” champion who knows the “politics” and the “players.” Have a champion who listens to the community, works with the criminal justice professionals, does not speak in absolutes or make promises they cannot keep and works quietly and steadily.
  • Go to the people doing the actual work. Conduct formal and informal stakeholder interviews and create opportunities for one-on-ones with the participants to transpire.
  • Allow for the evolution of the Task Force. Accept participants throughout the life cycle of the work, “the more the merrier.”
  • Establish a clear unity of command. This will provides direction and ownership—clarity, efficiency, accountability, and morale are all advantages of adopting a unity of command structure.
  • Remember that success does not have to be measured by numbers. Your measurements can be tangible and intangible.
  • Let the outcomes be the work of the Task Force
  • Bring a fresh set of eyes to the analysis. Solicit someone without an agenda, a neutral party, to the extent an organization can.
  • Remember, it can be done.
  • Establish a plumb line. Ascertain precisely what the “ask” is.


  • We brought together organizational silos.
  • We built new relationships and re-connected severed ones.
  • Participants understood other participants’ roles.
  • There were many a-ha moments—“I didn’t know you did that!”
  • The task force addressed low-hanging fruit and solved low-barrier impasses without the “red tape.”
  • We developed a set of recommendations. We established concrete solutions to problems and opportunities for change to funding sources
  • We gained commitment to the next stage and the commitment of the executive leadership to be fully invested in the goal of reducing people with mental illnesses in the local jails.
  • We received related grants. Our initial funding enabled and positioned the county to apply for funding announcements related to its opportunities for change due to the documented work performed through the Task Force.
  • We gained federal recognition as a best practice. The work of the Task Force became recognized by the U.S. Department of Justice/Bureau of Justice Assistance for the change agent it had become.

This task force was a multi-agency collaboration with representation from all areas of county, city, and state government, law enforcement, nonprofit organizations, and local behavioral health providers.

 I hope you enjoyed this series and gained insight in the event you are asked to support a similar project.