Forensic Services

Department of Mental Health Forensic Services

DMH Forensic Mental Health Services include court-based forensic mental health assessments and consultations for persons who are facing criminal or delinquency charges and civil commitment proceedings. These court-based services involve the provision of individual statutory and non-statutory evaluations regarding persons with mental health and substance abuse difficulties as well as mental health liaisons to adult and juvenile justice court personnel. Forensic Mental Health Services also encompasses DMH risk management activities.

DMH Forensic Service staff collaborate with other state agencies and providers regarding individuals who are involved in the criminal and juvenile justice systems. The Forensic Transition Team provides reentry services for DMH clients who are transitioning from prisons, jails and other places of detention to the community. Forensic Mental Health Services also oversees DMH-funded jail diversion activities and partners with other agencies on federally-funded projects aimed at minimizing the involvement of persons with mental health histories into the criminal justice system.

Table of Contents

Jail Diversion Programs

Persons with mental illness are over-represented in the criminal justice system. Since 2007, the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH) has collaborated with local law enforcement agencies to develop local Jail Diversion Projects to better serve this population.

Court Clinics

Court Clinics are responsible for providing all court-ordered forensic and clinical evaluations in the Juvenile, District, and Superior Courts in Massachusetts. Comprised mainly of psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and other licensed professionals, specified court clinicians evaluate individuals with suspected mental health difficulties who come to the attention of the justice system, often around issues of Competence to Stand Trial (CST) or Criminal Responsibility (CR), civil commitment related to substance use and mental illness and other types of evaluations. Juvenile Court Clinic activities also include evaluations of youth regarding a number of matters ranging from delinquency to evaluations pertaining to Children Requiring Assistance (CRA).

Inpatient Forensic Evaluations

DMH Forensic Services Designated Forensic Professionals (DFP) and Certified Juvenile Court Clinicians II (CJCC II) conduct inpatient examinations of defendants on issues primarily pertaining to CST and CR or aid-in-sentencing and coordinates with inpatient treatment teams and the courts. Individuals sent for evaluation may be committed for ongoing care and treatment beyond the evaluation period. Inpatient evaluators complete other forensic evaluations that include competence to stand trial updates and Independent Forensic Risk Assessments, which consist of risk assessment evaluations conducted by DFP’s that set forth in DMH policy 10-01R.

Specialty Court Services

DMH Forensic Services provides funding for clinical services at two Mental Health Courts in the Massachusetts District Court (Plymouth and Springfield), and provides support and assistance to Boston Municipal Court Mental Health Courts, supports Veterans Treatment Courts and Drug Courts with further plans for expansion in close partnership with the Trial Court.

Justice-Involved Veterans

Forensic Services is involved with the administration and funding of programs and services for Justice Involved Veterans, including MISSION Implementation services for Veterans who are ordered to this service by the court post-adjudication as an alternative to incarceration for veterans with co-occurring mental health and substance use challenges. DMH Forensic Services also provides funding to the Department of Veterans Services to assist with peer support services for veterans who are court-involved.

Forensic Transition Team (FTT)

DMH established the Forensic Transition Team in 1998. FTT is a boundary spanning, statewide service of DMH Forensic Services that ensures an effective reentry plan for DMH-service authorized individuals from state prisons and county houses of correction.

Certification and Training

DMH Forensic Services oversees, through its regulations, the certification and training of Designated Forensic Professionals, Qualified Social Workers, and Certified Juvenile Court Clinicians.

Segregation and Specialized Mental Health Unit Audits

Supervision of dental, medical and mental health care for inmates in Department of Correction segregation units as well as review of care provided at Evaluation and Stabilization Units in two Houses of Correction.

Collaboration with Criminal Justice Information Systems and the Sex Offender Registry Board

Collaboration with these agencies related to gathering background information under certain provisions.

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