Following in the footsteps of two Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grantees—Olathe and Overland Park, Kansas—11 other cities in Johnson County, Kansas, will partner with the Johnson County Mental Health Center to implement a mental health co-responder program this year.
Johnson County (Olathe, KS)
Johnson County (Olathe), Kansas, officials recognized the number of people with mental illnesses in their justice system was growing, and so they came together in 2010 to develop a strategy for using data to develop a system-wide response. They created maps showing how individuals flowed through their justice system, which provided a way for team members (who called their approach the “Intercept Project,” after a tool developed by the SAMHSA National GAINS Center) to visualize data and determine priorities.
After significant analysis, Johnson County decided to adopt new screening protocols at jail intake. They established a process to cross-reference criminal justice data with data collected by the mental health system to identify overlapping populations, which helps in classification and case staffing decisions, medication management, and psychiatric treatment.
Officials also realized that individuals who were referred to mental health services within the county’s jail made up a significant percentage of those who were frequently and repeatedly jailed. They now assess these individuals for serious mental illness and add repeated bookings as a criterion for eligibility for diversion. Johnson County conducts joint case planning between the jail and the individual’s mental health provider, a community mental health center, or a family member/significant other.
Officials also discovered that a large portion of the people with mental illnesses in their jail weren’t Johnson County residents. Of the 1,411 individuals flagged for a mental health referral between January and April 2010, for example, only 817 (58 percent) were actually from Johnson County. Most were from neighboring Wyandotte County. Now, when an individual from Wyandotte is about to be released from the jail in Johnson County, Wyandotte County officials are included in the reentry planning process.
After years of pursuing separate approaches to providing supervision and treatment, Kansas has become a national leader in providing integrated services to people on probation and parole who need mental health or substance use treatment.
Johnson County was one of four communities nationwide introduced Tuesday as initial participants in a broad effort aimed at reducing the number of mentally ill individuals in local jails.