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Riverside County Mental Health Court Program

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on 11 March 2014

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Transcript of Riverside County Mental Health Court Program

Mental Illness has been criminalized since the 1700s
Criminal Justice System has been utilized for years for the mentally ill.
Inability to access mental health treatment.
Mental illness is not one of the eight core criminogenic needs or risk factors identified by the criminal justice system. Mental illness is viewed as important, but is secondary to antisocial risk factors.
Criminal Justice systems are beginning to work together with specialized programs.
Members of the Collaboration
Forces Leading to the Collaboration
The identification by the courts and law enforcement, of the increase in mentally ill individuals in the Riverside County Detention Centers.
In 2011, throughout the five detention centers in Riverside County, it was estimated that approximately 33% or more inmates were receiving treatment for mental illness (Riverside County’s Mental Health Court Program, 2011).
Description of the Collaboration
Riverside County Mental Health Court Program
Superior Court Judge
Public Defender's Office
District Attorney's Office
Department of Probation
Department of Mental Health
Purpose of the Collaboration
To address the recidivism of mentally ill offenders in the five detention centers.
To promote public safety by reducing criminal recidivism by linking to appropriate community resources for mental health treatment.
To provide mental health treatment combined with adequate probation supervision to encourage continued success with judicial oversight.
To provide a seamless transfer of mental health services from the jail to the community.
Grant Writing and Budgeting
Bouncing Back
Alternative Sentencing Program
The collaborating members initially applied for and were awarded a grant called the Alternative Sentencing Program.
The program created a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) and established a collaborative mission statement which addressed recidivism of this population.
Upon the expiration of the grant, the Alternative Sentencing Program was disbanded, but the collaboration did not end.
The stakeholders found the Alternative Sentencing Program to be successful.
Mental Health Services Act
The stakeholders sought alternative funding sources and ideas in order to continue serving the mentally ill offender population.
In November 2006, Riverside County secured funding from California’s MHSA and was able to establish its existing Mental Health Court Program.
The new funding from MHSA provided a fiscal budget to cover mental health services.
The remaining four agencies also committed funding of their own in order to implement program services.
Social Media & Technology
With the sensitivity and confidentiality restrictions of health care regulations, the program is limited with its use of social media.
Technology is often used by Mental Health Court staff members in the form of video conferencing to conduct countywide meetings from the courthouses.
These meetings are to provide a cost effective planning and review of the collaboration efforts.
In the past, there have been news reporters at graduation to report about the success of the program.
History of the Development
Deborah Johnson, LCSW Riverside County Department of Behavioral Health Deputy Director.
Ed Perez
Late 1990s
Late 2000s
Stage 1: Bringing People Together
Community speaks out
Maura Rogers/Public Defender’s Office
Superior Court Judge
Bob Barlis/Department of Mental Health
Ed Perez/Clinical Therapist
“No one can go it alone” –G. Olibvarez
Stage 2: Conflict
“Conflict is working through a difference of opinion."
"Fighting is the avoidance of conflict” L. Hirsch
Public Defender vs. District Attorney
Growing into their new roles
Judge, Public Defender, District Attorney, Probation, Mental Health.
Stage 3: Implementation, Action Plan, Evaluation
Revisit the vision
Include other agencies
Stage 4: Collaboration, Building for the Future
Caseloads, staff, budget planning, integrity of the program.
“Invest in the human soul. Who knows, it might be a diamond in the rough”-Mary Bethune
The Four Stages
Ethical Dilemmas & Unique Challenges
Ethical & Unique Challenges
Beneficence vs. Non malfeasance
Prosecution vs. Public Defender
Is Mental Health Court a “real court”?
Possible Resolutions of Ethical Challenges
Code of Ethics
Possible Resolutions of Ethical Challenges
Possible Resolutions of Ethical Challenges
Make Good Choices
E-Examine relevant, personal, societal, agency, client and professional values.
T- Think about what ethical standard of the NASW code of ethics applies, as well as relevant laws and case decision.
H- Hypothesize about possible consequences of different decisions.
C- Consult with supervisor and colleagues about the most ethical choice.
I-Identify who will benefit and who will be harmed in view of social work’s commitment to the most vulnerable.
Systems Theory
How complex systems are structured
How they relate to the system as a whole
Systems are in continual transaction with their environment
Systems are interrelated parts or subsystems constituting an ordered whole
Subsystems impact all other subsystems and the whole system
Closed or open boundaries
Systems tend toward equilibrium
Prior to Mental Health Court Collaboration
Mentally ill offenders did not receive adequate mental health treatment
 Closed subsystem from community providers
 Rigid boundaries
 Lack of knowledge
 Lack of service
 Lack of insurance coverage
 Lack of supportive social services
 Lack of financial support
Community stakeholders acted individually as closed subsystems
 Mentally ill offender
 Law enforcement
 District Attorney
 Public Defender
 Superior Court Judges
 Other stakeholders
Community stakeholders had impermeable boundaries
 Little to no interaction with other outside systems

Community stakeholders resisted change, therefore prone to disorder
After Mental Health Collaboration
Mentally ill offenders now get improved mental health treatment and other social services
 Open subsystem from community providers
 Flexible boundaries
 Shared knowledge
 Service options
Community stakeholders now act as open subsystems
 Mental Health Court Program
 Regular interaction amongst multiple stakeholders
 Change is evaluated and constant
Opportunity for Change
Currently, the Riverside Mental Health Court Program does not have an MOU.
This puts the collaborative at risk for not having:
long-term stability
the assurance of a successful relationship.
An MOU as an Opportunity for Change
An MOU will:
build commitment & reinforce the purpose & vision.
Keep in Mind:
purpose of the agreement.
detailed and comprehensive enough that each partner has a clear understanding of:
the collaboration,
their role in it,
what is expected of them,
what they can expect from the rest of those in the collaborative
Important Elements of the MOU
Identify how decisions will be made:
Consensus Model
Majority Vote
Some other system of decision-making
Quorum (which decisions can/can't be made)
Roles and Responsibilities
The MOU should address some key elements of the roles and responsibilities of each partner.
providing funding or other resources
the delivery of service
the connecting of the collaborative with other people or groups offering expertise
what resources each member agrees to commit
who will be responsible for:
planning, conducting, and documenting the meetings and work of the collaboration.
The MOU should be detailed and comprehensive enough that each partner has a clear understanding of the collaboration, their role in it, what is expected of them, and what they can expect from the rest of those in the collaborative

A written agreement helps to ensure that a collaborative can survive changes in the environment or with key people, by serving as structure which the partnership can adapt and grow from.

Most importantly, the MOU should support the work of the collaboration and not get in the way.

It is not necessary for the MOU to include every detail or decision that the collaboration will face.
Memorandum of Understanding
Opportunity for Change
Creating Alliances and Partnerships:
Most of the services thus far are reactive to the problems
New partners and relationships that can provide:
temporary employment
These services may help toward reintegration into society.
Addressing these New Alliances and Partnerships:
The MOU should describe how novel partners are added to the collaboration
how they are identified
criteria for this type of partner
the process of how they are brought into the group
how roles and responsibilities will be determined.
details of when and how partners may be removed from the collaborative if needed.
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