I recently had the opportunity to sit in on a Sequential Intercept Mapping Workshop of Albany (NY) County as part of the Albany County Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Project.

The project is a partnership between the Albany Police Department, the Albany County Department of Mental Health and the Albany County Forensic Task Force to establish a Police Crisis Intervention Team in the City of Albany and is funded by the Albany Police Department.  Believing that the success of Police Crisis Intervention Team implementation is “more than training” and requires community partnerships, the planning team has sought to involve community stakeholders from the project’s inception. Key to meaningful stakeholder involvement is an understanding of each other’s roles in serving justice involved persons with mental illness.  One of the specific tasks was to provide a map of community services as those services relate to the justice system.

The event kicked off with an introduction by Albany Police Chief Steven Krokoff and Mame Lyttle of the Albany County Forensic Task Force’s Mental Health Subcommittee.  The workshop was conducted by PRA’s Dan Abreu, MS CRC LMHC, and Don Kamin, Ph.D., Chief of Clinical and Forensic Services for the Monroe County Office of Mental Health in Rochester, NY.

What is a Mapping?  It’s a dynamic, interactive tool for developing criminal justice-mental health partnerships used by communities to assess their resources, gaps and opportunities at each of five “intercept points.”  The mapping exercise aims to identify potential opportunities for diversion, or alternative justice and behavioral health interventions for persons with mental illness and co-occurring disorders, within each of the five intercepts.  Below are the five intercepts, with particular resources that are available for alternative justice responses in Albany County:

Intercept Resources Available for Alternative Justice Responses in Albany County
I – Pre-arrest/first contact w/ CJ System (dispatch, law enforcement, crisis centers/teams, emergency services)
  • CART Mobile Crisis
  • Albany Police CIT
II – Post-arrest (initial detention/booking, arraignment/initial court hearing, referrals to speacialty courts, pre-trial services)
  • Mental health/suicide screening in jail
  • Pretrial Release Program
  • Public Defenders Advocacy Program
  • Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program
III – Jails, courts
  • Veterans court docket
  • Drug court docket
  • Mental health/suicide screening in jail
IV – Prisons, jail re-entry, prison re-entry
  • Albany County Reentry Task Force
V – Probation, parole, community supports (housing, vocational/peer support)
  • Specialized mental health caseloads

In addition to the identification of gaps, resources and priorities, mapping workshops aim to promote collaboration amongst criminal justice and behavioral health entities across the five intercepts.  The workshop facilitators encourage the group to develop a cross-systems task force to ensure that the priorities identified during the workshop are addressed through combined efforts and team work.  Use of this framework fosters the active participation of key individuals from all points along the “Sequential Intercept,” and Albany was no exception.

The team of stakeholders in the room represented expertise in Law Enforcement, Emergency Response, Health Care, Housing, Veterans Services, Consumers, Courts, Jails/Prisons, and Probation/Parole and participated in discussions aimed at identifying opportunities for linkage to services and for prevention of further penetration into the criminal justice system.

By the end of the day, after much lively discussion and grappling with the issues together, a map of Albany’s system was drafted, and priorities for change were listed on large flip-chart paper in the front of the room.  Priorities address improved integration of emergency and crisis services, increased participation of consumers and consumer run agencies and planning for health care reform.  PRA will continue to support implementation of the project while they tackle these top priorities, and work to develop an enhanced and collaborative system of responding to persons with mental illness or co-occurring disorders involved in all five intercepts of the criminal justice and behavioral health systems.

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