A partnership led by the Mental health Center of Denver (MHCD) proposes to improve health and social outcomes and reduce criminal justice system involvement and incarcerations among Denver residents with a serious mental illness. The Denver Court-Ordered Assisted Community Treatment (CO-ACT) project will implement and evaluate an Assisted Outpatient Treatment (AOT) program which will identify, engage and deliver case management, services and support to justice-involved adults who are court-ordered into treatment.
MHCD has a successful history of collaboration to provide behavioral health services for justice-involved individuals in Colorado's 2nd Judicial District. Current partnerships encompass the Denver Police Department; Denver District, Probate and County Courts; the Denver Sheriff's Department; probation and parole; county and district attorney's; the Public Defender's Office; Denver Health, the city's principal safety net healthcare provider; and the Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission. Through these partnerships, persons with serious behavioral health disorders are now linked with targeted services at many points of involvement with the justice system, from pre-adjudication and diversion to probation and parole.
Despite this success, Denver does not have an AOT program in place, nor a comprehensive service program exclusively for justice-involved individuals with a serious mental illness. SAMHSA funding would create a multi-disciplinary team of behavioral health specialists with the skills and experience to serve 75-125 people annually and a total of 450 people over the four-year project period. The CO-ACT team would deliver services tailored to the specific needs of each person enrolled. These could include intensive case management, mobile crisis services, medication management, treatment for mental health/substance use disorders, short- and long-term housing and supports, wellness/recovery, rehabilitation/supported employment, linkages with family and other natural supports, and other services/supports as needed.
CO-ACT's targetr population will be adult offenders with a serious mental illness, including those with co-occuring substance use disorder, who are in the pre-trial phase in Denver District or County Court. These persons would be court-ordered into the program as an alternative to trial and potential incarceration. Participants will be able to access a full array of case management and other evidence-based care through the dedicated, multi-disciplinary team.
The CO-ACT project will incorporate a robust evaluation to measure the program's success in improving health and wellness for program participants , and in reducing further interactions with the justice system, incarcerations, psychiatric hospitalizations and homelessness. This evaluation will use the nationally-known Recovery Inventory System, a high-level utilization management and outcomes system developed with the participation of persons we serve in its design =, selection and ongoing data collection. We will also conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the process of implementing AOT in Denver, aimed at facilitating replication in other jurisdictions.