Seal of Dane County County of Dane
County Executive's Office


November 08, 2017
Sharon Corrigan, County Board Chair 608.333.2285
County Board

Diversion Opportunities to be Identified between Criminal Justice and Mental Health Systems

Dane County officials announce plans to develop a comprehensive strategy to divert people with mental illness from the criminal justice system.  Partnering with national experts, Policy Research Incorporated (PRI), Dane County will map current resources and identify additional opportunities for community based solutions for criminal justice involved people with mental illness.  Using the “Sequential Intercept Model” (S.I.M.), Dane County will identify points of contact to intervene, provide resources, and prevent individuals from entering or moving deeper into the criminal justice system.


“Dane County has made strides in addressing the needs of the mentally ill in our community,” said County Board Chair Sharon Corrigan.  “In the past decade, the county has nearly doubled spending on adult mental health programs.  Our work with PRI will allow the county to take stock of current efforts and guide our next steps in diverting those suffering with mental health issues from jail.”


Scheduled to occur over a day and a half training in January, the development of the intercept model will involve criminal justice stakeholders and community advocates.  Opportunities will be identified at each of six points, from community services prior to any contact with law enforcement to various steps with the courts and corrections, with the goal of diverting people prior to or at the earliest possible contact with the criminal justice system. 


“Behavioral health and criminal justice systems often collide, creating significant barriers to treatment and support services,” said Travis Parker of Policy Research, Inc. “Sequential Intercept Mapping assists jurisdictions looking to develop and implement plans for community change through cross-system collaboration, organizational change, and enhancing practice, utilizing innovative and dynamic tools to map systems, identify gaps in services, and clarify community resources.  This unique, 1 ½ day workshop, facilitated by Policy Research Inc. and financially supported by the MacArthur Foundation, focuses on people with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders involved with the criminal justice system in Dane County.”


Last year Dane County was chosen as an “innovation site” for the influential MacArthur Foundation, which provided support for the Dane County Community Restorative Court.  This national partnership opened doors to innovations and additional support across the Dane County criminal justice system.


Dane County stakeholders and community members dedicated to reducing the number of residents with mental health issues in the jail will participate in the training.  Community advocates and subject matter experts are key to the S.I.M., and Dane County will make sure to bring their voices to the table.


We are committed to continuing this important work of integrating and improving? the? mental health and criminal justice systems,” said Lindsay Wallace, Executive Director of NAMI Dane County (National Alliance on Mental Illness). “This training and technical assistance is one of many steps that will continue to improve our policy and practices to divert individuals with mental illness (whenever appropriate) away from jail into community-based services. We thank the County Board for what we consider to be overwhelming support for these efforts and look forward to working with ?them, as well as other community partners?, to develop and implement a plan that provides the appropriate support and services at all the ?intervention points of the criminal justice system.”


The Sequential Intercept Model (SIM)provides an organizing tool to develop targeted strategies to increase diversion from the criminal justice system and link those with mental illness to community treatment.


“Even though Dane County is the fastest growing county in the state, we are remodeling our jail facilities to have almost 100 fewer beds than currently exists,” said Corrigan.  People with mental illness do not belong in jail.  Our work with PRI underscores our commitment to diversion.”