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King County Regional Mental Health Court Navigating the mental health and chemical dependency communities.

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Presentation on theme: "King County Regional Mental Health Court Navigating the mental health and chemical dependency communities."— Presentation transcript:

1 King County Regional Mental Health Court Navigating the mental health and chemical dependency communities

2 King County RMHC Began in 1999 as one of the first Mental Health Courts in the country (followed closely by Seattle Municipal Mental Health Court) Started in response to a local tragedy Since 1999, over 500 graduates

3 RMHC Goals To collaborate to: o Reduce recidivism o Protect public safety o Improve the quality of life for persons with mental illness involved in the criminal justice system o Recognize that traditional criminal justice models don’t always work for persons with mental illness

4 Expanded Regional Approach King County District Court Misdemeanor Referrals o Referrals can be made by any party, any time King County Superior Court Felony Referrals o Prosecutor consults with the victim and/or police officers o Reduced to one or more misdemeanors o Pre-adjudication cases City Referrals from all 39 Cities in King County o Referred by the city prosecutor’s office o Pre-adjudication cases

5 The RMHC Team Defense: 3 attorneys, 2 social workers Prosecution: 3 attorneys, 1 paralegal, 1 victim advocate Court Clinicians 4 Probation Mental Health Specialists Judge Court Clerks Court Manager Peers

6 Prosecution Role Traditional role of monitoring defendants for compliance with court conditions Additional role of problem solving, increased contact with treatment providers and support systems Work with defendants, the court, providers, and support systems with a therapeutic focus

7 Defense Role Review legal case with client and discuss legal options both in and out of mental health court Discuss short- and long-term goals Discuss pros and cons of therapeutic court and what to expect from the program Collaborate with court clinicians, prosecutors, and probation Maintain attorney-client relationship

8 Probation Role Monitoring clients for compliance with court conditions Problem-solving increased contact with treatment providers and support systems Work with clients, the Court, providers, and support systems with a therapeutic focus Have a minimum of a Master’s Degree education and experience in mental health

9 Judicial Role Traditional role of imposing sentence and monitoring court-ordered conditions Build rapport with program participants Provide incentives and impose individually tailored sanctions as necessary

10 Peer Role Have experience in treatment and in the criminal justice system Bridge the gap and lend support to clients Serve a variety of functions

11 Court Clinician Role Works for the court under a contract with Sound Mental Health Responsible for screening for eligibility (diagnostic and amenability) Monitors pre opt-in Conditions of Release Creates treatment plans to address State’s concerns, the defendant’s wishes, and Court’s conditions Aid the Court in assessing competency issues All through a strong forensic lens

12 Competency and Therapeutic Court RMHC is the hub for all competency proceedings in King County District Court o Team members with in-depth knowledge of assessing competency and competency statutes o Relationships with ITA and Western State Hospital o Neutral third party Court Clinician to weigh in on competency concerns Competency (ability to assist in your own defense and understand court procedures) is fluid and needs to be reassessed often o Other Drug Courts and Therapeutic Courts do not deal with competency issues

13 Eligibility Criteria Severe and persistent Major Mental Illness Misdemeanor charge or felony charge that the prosecutors agree to reduce to a misdemeanor Amenability (willingness and ability to participate in probation program for typically between 18 months and 2 years) Ability to access treatment and clean and sober housing

14 Treatment/Probation Plan Mental health treatment (can include med monitoring) Chemical dependency treatment & abstinence No criminal law violations No weapons No threats/acts of harm to self or others Random UAs as recommended by treatment/probation Regular court reviews and probation appointments Other conditions as connected to the charge (no contact orders, domestic violence treatment, DUI victims panel, etc.)

15 Standard Release Plans In-custody defendants: o Released to case manager or peer on a Monday or Tuesday o Attend housing and treatment intakes o Get bus passes, benefits, and clothing o Meet with probation o Return to court within a week Out of custody defendants: o Meet probation every 2 weeks o Return to court in 30 days

16 RMHC Resources Team specializing in clients with mental illness Intensive probation services Graduated and individualized sanctions/incentives Boundary spanners to help connect to services Clean and sober housing beds Access to inpatient treatment programs like CORP Defense social workers to help with benefits and treatment issues Peers to help clients bridge the gaps Flex Funds

17 RMHC Funding Sources Court staff are funded by the one-tenth of one percent sales tax and is known as the MIDD fund. (Mental Illness and Drug Dependency) In June 2010, the mental health court expanded with MIDD funds to become a Regional Mental Health Court so that all of the 39 cities within King County could refer their cases to this court. In June 2012, the Regional Mental Health Court expanded (without additional funds) to incorporate a Regional Veterans Court. The total MIDD budget for Regional Mental Health Court and Regional Veterans Court for District Court operations is $884,314. There are additional MIDD funds dedicated for defense attorneys, defense social workers, prosecutors, Funding for treatment services and housing is provided by MIDD funds contracted with mental health treatment agencies. Treatment agencies also rely on the Regional Support Network and Medicaid funding for services.

18 DDC vs. MHC Use of Sanctions: There is no sanction grid to deal with out of compliance issues. Each individual is assessed on their personal performance with consideration to their baseline functioning. Competency: Drug Courts generally do not deal with criminal competency issues. Since mental illness severity may vary, an individual may decompensate to the point of not being able to proceed in court with the ability to assist in their defense and may need to be referred for a competency evaluation with Western State Hospital. Regional Mental Health Court does not have a phase system. The length of time a defendant has to complete the mental health court program is dependent upon the jurisdiction of the court. The length of time of participation varies from 6 month to 24 months.

19 Strategies for Non-MHC Courts Adopt a problem-solving approach Adopt therapeutic models of sanctions and incentives Involve peers in jail release and court processes Make service providers more readily available at the courthouse Use family as a connection between treatment and courts

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