Orange County Receives National Training Addressing Substance and Mental Health Issues in Criminal Justice System

Public Health & Safety

Policy Research Associates, Inc. Senior Project Associate Brian Case, M.A., Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Policy Research Associates, Inc. Senior Consultant Patricia Griffin, Ph.D. gathered recently at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences Orange County Extension office for a comprehensive federal training by SAMHSA.

Orange County is one of five counties selected nationwide to receive comprehensive federal training aimed at preventing vulnerable individuals with substance and mental health issues from entering the criminal justice system.

Leaders from Orange County, the City of Orlando, law enforcement, corrections, the criminal justice system, hospitals and other mental health providers participated in the workshop which began on Aug. 23.

The two-day workshop, coordinated by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA) and the GAINS Center is developed from the Gather, Assess, Integrate, Network and Stimulate Model to enhance community safety and improve the quality of life of individuals with mental health and substance disorders.

Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs provided the welcome remarks and acknowledged the vital efforts of leaders in the criminal justice, law enforcement and corrections system.

“Individuals with mental illness and substance misuse disorders are overrepresented in jails. Correctional settings are not intended to be mental health treatment facilities,” Mayor Jacobs said. “Ensuring that there are quality mental health services for all citizens has been a priority since I became Mayor in 2011. We continue to lead community conversations in a constant effort to identify better solutions and stronger outcomes for those who have homelessness, behavioral and mental health needs.”

Through a process known as “Sequential Intercept Mapping” or SIM, Orange County will work in partnership with SAMHSA and the GAINS Center to identify gaps in the local criminal justice system. SIM outlines points at which a person with a mental illness or substance misuse disorder can be “intercepted” and kept from moving further into the criminal justice system. The goal is to divert vulnerable individuals early so that they do not enter the criminal justice system.

The model proposes five key intercept levels within the criminal justice system, including law enforcement and emergency services, initial hearings and initial detention, jail and courts, reentry from jails, prisons and hospitals, and community corrections and community support.

To emphasize early diversion, Orange County’s workshop focused primarily on intercept training for law enforcement, emergency services, initial court appearances and initial detention.

To view photos from the workshop, visit Mayor Jacobs’ Flickr album.

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