Approach Develops Coordinated Local Response to Prevent Recidivism

The Massachusetts Community Justice Project is holding a series of mapping workshops across the state with criminal justice partners and treatment providers on how to best intervene with at-risk individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. The project aims to enhance collaboration and communication between professionals in the court system, law enforcement, and treatment.

“The mapping model attempts to create order out of chaos,” explains Coordinator Marisa Hebble, who adds that the trick is to create a locally-based map that identifies and connects resources and best practices across each of the three systems. That way, people can get the help they need more efficiently, before they’re in crisis.


Community Justice mapping project team members chat during a break.
Hingham District Court First Justice Heather Bradley chats with Hanover's Fire Department Chief Jeffrey Blanchard and Police Chief Walter Sweeney during a break at the Community Justice Project's mapping exercise in Hingham.


“Each system is different, with different perspectives and different vocabularies,” says Ms. Hebble, who led a group in Hingham last month through the five major intercepts, which are outlined in detail in the report below.

The project, funded by a special legislative appropriation, uses a field-tested Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) tool to determine five key points or intercepts – namely, key moments when three systems: courts, criminal justice and treatment – can intervene and connect at-risk people with services that address the underlying issues that may lead to involvement with the criminal justice system.

The local focus behind each workshop also means that community leaders, advocates and other participants are often working together for the first time to custom-design solutions that best fit their constituents’ needs.

“This mapping exercise is essential to break the cycle of recidivism and is critical to the safety of the communities we live in and for the lives who come before us,” said District Court Chief Justice Paul Dawley during the first day of the Hingham workshop. “You have the ability to change the lives of those in our community. One person can make a difference. I urge you to stick with it.”

Learn more…

Legislative Report - Massachusetts Community Justice Project: Mid-Year Update