For Immediate Release - December 15, 2016

Trial Court Community Justice Project Issues Report on Mental Health and Addiction

BOSTON, MA -- The Trial Court Massachusetts Community Justice Project has submitted a to update the Legislature on the status of the Project, which is holding workshops with criminal justice partners and behavioral health treatment providers on effective ways to intervene with at-risk individuals before they become involved, or further involved, with the criminal justice system.

Spearheaded by the Trial Court and funded by the Legislature, the Massachusetts Community Justice Project builds on the efforts of the Trial Court Task Force on Mental Health and Substance Abuse, chaired by Chief Justice Paula M. Carey. The Task Force was charged with reviewing how the state court system and criminal justice system respond to court-involved individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. Members of the Task Force include representatives from the Trial Court, Department of Mental Health, Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services, Department of Corrections, Sheriffs’ Offices, District Attorneys’ Offices, and the Committee for Public Counsel Services.

The Massachusetts Community Justice Project is using a Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) tool to determine five key "intercepts" when a member of the court system, criminal justice system or behavioral health community has an opportunity to intervene with an at-risk individual to connect that person with services to address the underlying issues that often lead to crime or reoffending.

The Project has so far led workshops in 11 district court and Boston Municipal Court jurisdictions that serve 83 towns and cities across the state, bringing together members of the court system at the district court level with criminal justice and behavioral health partners to identify available resources and gaps in resources or communication, and develop a customized action plan for each community. Workshops have been conducted in five divisions of the Boston Municipal Court (South Boston, Dorchester, Roxbury, West Roxbury and the Central Division); and District Courts in Quincy, Taunton (juvenile), Springfield, Plymouth, Greenfield, Lawrence, Orange, Boston, Pittsfield and Hingham.

Workshop participants in each district include: local law enforcement; First Justices and Specialty Court judges; probation chiefs; District Attorney and Sheriff offices staff; emergency department and crisis staff; mental health and substance use disorder professionals; recovery support staff; elected officials; human service agencies; advocates; and people with personal experience with local services and the criminal justice system.

Massachusetts Community Justice Project workshops are two-day problem solving sessions based on the "Sequential Intercept Model", a SAMHSA Gains Center tool, designed to help communities identify local resources and gaps in services, and develop priorities and an action plan to implement increased early intervention support to each specific community based on its needs. The Sequential Intercept Model is a framework that depicts the justice system as a series of “intercepts”, or points, at which someone with behavioral health needs can be connected with treatment and recovery support.

Key points where persons in need of treatment and recovery services intercept and can be identified include:

  • Intercept 1: Law Enforcement and Emergency Services (Crisis, EMT, and Emergency Departments)
  • Intercept 2: Initial Booking/Detention and Initial Court Hearings
  • Intercept 3: Jail, Corrections, Specialty Courts, Forensic Evaluations and Commitments
  • Intercept 4: Re-entry from Corrections, State Prisons, and Forensic Hospitalization
  • Intercept 5: Community Corrections (Parole, Probation, Office of Community Corrections) and Community Support

Workshops in Massachusetts also include discussion and analysis of Intercept Zero; places in the community where people with behavioral health needs can be connected with support before contact with the justice system.