ODMHSAS has undertaken a variety of initiatives to promote a Smart on Crime approach to criminal justice challenges resulting from untreated mental health and substance use issues. These initiatives provide resources to courts and other criminal justice partners, local law enforcement, Oklahoma communities, families and individual seeking help.
Smart on Crime
The concept of Smart on Crime is to address mental illness and addiction at any number of diversion points:
- Initial Detention/At Booking
- Post-Booking/Initial Hearing
- At Disposition/Sentencing
- While Incarcerated
By engaging individuals in the right services before they experience adverse behavior that leads to criminal justice system involvement, at the earliest possible time once they enter the criminal justice system, while incarcerated and/or when they exit incarceration, we can avoid a continuance of future negative actions and successfully restore that person’s ability to be a successful and contributing community member.
ODMHSAS Smart on Crime Initiative
ODMHSAS has developed a multistage model of resources needed to reduce Oklahoma’s growing incarceration rate by appropriately screening, diverting and providing the right treatment services for individuals engaged in the criminal justice system due to untreated mental illness and substance use. The potential effectiveness of this model has been verified by independent studies confirming its merits and ability to successfully help the state to avoid millions in future costs once fully funded and implemented. Parts of this plan are currently in action throughout the state and are returning incredible results. The initiative has been endorsed by numerous law enforcement and community organizations (including the 2008 Oklahoma Academy Town Hall), including:
- The Oklahoma District Attorney’s Council
- The Oklahoma Sheriff's Association
- The Oklahoma Association of Chiefs of Police
- The Academy for State Goals
- The Oklahoma Turning Point Council
- The City of Oklahoma City
- The City of Midwest City
- Available Criminal Justice Programs and Resources
The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (ODMHSAS) funds many programs along the criminal justice continuum. Each has the goal of providing quick access to care in order to divert individuals from moving deeper into the criminal justice system and decrease the likelihood of future involvement.
Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT) – The CIT program is a community effort providing specialized training to law enforcement officers so that they can better respond to situations involving individuals experiencing a mental health crisis. It is an innovative, police-based first-responder model designed to help persons with mental health or addiction treatment needs access medical care rather than a jail cell. This training initiative promotes officer safety and the safety of the individual in crisis, aids in family communications and creates strong partnerships between law enforcement and the treatment community. Since 2002, approximately 1,200 law enforcement officers have been trained across Oklahoma. For more information on CIT opportunities, contact Cory Sutton at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Law Enforcement Training – Law enforcement training is offered by ODMHSAS staff to fulfill CLEET continuing education needs. Classes can be offered from an existing course list or tailored to the needs of agencies. For more information on Law Enforcement Training opportunities, contact Cory Sutton at email@example.com.
Training – ODMHSAS offers many training opportunities throughout the year ranging from half-day, workshops on specific best practices to the two-day annual Criminal Justice and Behavioral Health Conference each fall. For communities or programs looking for individualized help for their needs, the ODMHSAS offers customized criminal justice technical assistance at no cost. Examples of commonly requested technical assistance include community system mapping to identify barriers and gaps in the diversion system or conducting analysis of criminal justice data to identify trends and inform local policy. For more information regarding training and technical assistance, click here.
Pretrial Support Services – Support services are offered to pretrial service agencies, courts and jails in order to expedite bond decisions that encourage rehabilitation, public safety and coordination with community-based providers. ODMHSAS also provides free certification training on the use of validated pretrial risk assessment tools as well as other pretrial best practices, including access to the ODMHSAS web-based pretrial data collection system. For more information on Pretrial Support, please contact Tammy Westcott at Tammy.Westcott@odmhsas.org.
Early Diversion Programs - These programs provide wrap around services and legal benefits to misdemeanor and first-time felony offenders. The participant receives individualized case management plans and treatment services provided by certified treatment agencies, if needed. There is judicial oversight with an emphasis on engagement. There are currently 25 counties operating early diversion programs. For more information on Early Diversion Programs, please contact Tammy Westcott at Tammy.Westcott@odmhsas.org.
Offender Screening – As authorized by 43A O.S. 3-704, Offender Screenings are conducted by ODMHSAS certified treatment providers to determine felony offenders’ risk to reoffend as well as identify substance use and mental health treatment needs. Using these validated screening instruments, referral recommendations are made for prison-alternative sentences that best meet the offender’s needs and increase the likelihood of successful prison diversion. By serving as central screening hubs, county jail-based screenings save diversion program resources and avoid duplicative assessment processes. Offender Screening has reduced the average time an offender spends awaiting sentencing by 57 days, resulting in $15.5 million in jail day savings. ODMHSAS has made available offender screening to all counties statewide. Counties that have not utilized offender screening in the past experienced an increase in the percentage of non-violent prison receptions that was approximately twice that of counties that were using offender screening. To date, approximately 30,000 screens have been completed and 26,500 final dispositions recorded. An estimated 82 percent of those screened individuals are eligible for diversion programs, including treatment services and other. For more information on Offender Screening, click here.
Drug Courts – The annual cost of drug court is $5,000 compared to $19,000 for incarceration. That alone is a significant benefit. But, what really tells the story are the improved outcomes. Drug Court graduates are much less likely to become incarcerated compared to released inmates. Measured program outcomes include 94.5 percent drop in unemployment, a 119.3 percent jump in monthly income, a 110.4 percent increase in participants with private health insurance and better than 85 percent of graduates are able to again live with their children. A tracking study of over 4,000 graduates monitored for a five year period demonstrated earnings of better than $204 million that resulted in an estimated $6.1 million in tax revenue paid to the state. Had these graduates been incarcerated, instead of in drug court, it would have cost the state an additional $191.6 million (average sentence of three years each). There are approximately 4,000 drug court slots statewide. For more information on Drug Courts, please contact Sai'Queenau Reese at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Health Courts – The outcomes for mental health courts, like drug courts, are impressive. Graduates of mental health courts are over 7 times less likely to become incarcerated compared to released inmates, and over 13 times less likely to be incarcerated than released inmates who have been diagnosed as having a serious mental illness. Program graduates have seen a 42 percent drop in unemployment, a 90 percent decrease in arrests and an 70 percent decrease in the number of days spent in jail. Graduates of the program also show a 71 percent decrease in the number of needed inpatient hospital days. There are currently mental health courts in 29 Oklahoma counties with an additional 4 counties having requested services. Appropriated state funding currently allows for approximately 700 mental health court slots statewide. For more information on Mental Health Courts, please contact Sai'Queenau Reese at email@example.com.
Family Treatment Courts – A family treatment court (FTC) is a juvenile deprived court docket for cases of child maltreatment in which parental substance use is a contributing factor. FTC offers a promising approach for courts, providing insight into better ways of engaging families who struggle with substance use issues and have had their child(ren) placed in custody of Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services (DHS). The FTC uses a multidisciplinary, collaborative approach to address the multi-faceted needs of families. These court dockets bring together substance use and mental health treatment agencies, child welfare services, court personnel, and other community partners in a non-adversarial approach to coordinate services, to help families improve their well-being and increase safety and permanency for children, help parents or caregivers achieve stable recovery, and ensure each family member receives the services and supports needed. This is accomplished though more frequent hearings, intensive judicial monitoring, and interventions to treat parents’ or caregivers’ substance use disorders and other co-occurring risk factors. Collaboration is the core of family treatment courts. As of November 2023 there are currently nine FTCs operating in 12 counties in Oklahoma, with plans to expand further across the state. Positive outcomes show that parents involved in the FTC entered substance use treatment quicker, stayed in treatment longer, and completed more treatment episodes. Furthermore, children involved in the FTC spent less time in foster care and were more likely to reunify compared to children not in FTC. The most recent data from the FTCs across Oklahoma indicated that children in FTC experienced a 125 percent reduction in out-of-home placement days and a 58 percent reduction in unemployment. Additionally, this approach meant that 61 infants did not test positive for substances at birth. For more information on Family Treatment Courts, please contact Kelly.Earles@odmhsas.org..
Misdemeanor Diversion Programs – Misdemeanor diversion programs partner criminal justice accountability with evidence-based substance abuse and mental health treatment services to decrease future involvement with the criminal justice system. Misdemeanor diversion general operates within two models:
- Misdemeanor Treatment Courts - These are highly structured programs include, but are not limited to, regular court appearances, case management, supervision, random drug screens, group and individual therapy by certified treatment agencies.
- Deferred Adjudication Treatment Programs - These programs provide diversion strategies, such as deferred prosecution agreements, as the legal mechanism for participation. The participant receives individualized treatment services provided by certified treatment agencies without the supervision of the court. Treatment providers report to the DA when a participant is non-compliant with services. There are currently 7 counties operating misdemeanor diversion programs, with an additional 9 in planning stages.
For more information on Misdemeanor Diversion Programs, please contact SaiQueenau Reese at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Zone4Vets – Services for veterans are provided by ODMHSAS through the Zone4Vets initiative. Zone4Vets is a special distinction that criminal justice programs, such as treatment courts, can earn by meeting a set of research-supported criteria for operational standards and policies. Programs receiving the Zone4Vets distinction have enhanced collaboration with community veteran resources, receive specialized training, and follow practices to quickly identify justice-involved veterans in the criminal justice system. Several programs across the state have received Zone4Vets honors and are providing exceptional care to veterans in their communities. For more information about Zone4Vets, please contact SaiQueenau Reese at email@example.com.
Juvenile Diversion – Partnership with Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA) exists throughout the state. For example, ODMHSAS operates 7 juvenile diversion treatment programs providing OJA supervision, court oversight and community-based treatment services to decrease the likelihood of future involvement in the criminal justice system.
Reentry Intensive Care Coordination Teams (RICCT) – The RICCT initiative provides treatment services in the community for persons discharged from prison. This nationally recognized initiative has reduced the rate of prison returns for participants compared a baseline comparison of released inmates. Additionally, participants within two years of release have a 56 percent higher reported income than a baseline comparison of released inmates. For more information on RICCT programs, please contact Stephanie Cottrell at Stephanie.Cottrell@odmhsas.org. For more information on general Reentry programs, view this document.
Integrated Services Discharge Managers (ISDMs) – ISDMs are ODMHSAS staff who office alongside Oklahoma Department of Corrections staff in many of the state’s prisons. ISDMs work with discharging inmates with serious mental illness in order to connect them to mental health services in the communities of their choice. For more information on ISDMs, please contact Stephanie Cottrell at Stephanie.Cottrell@odmhsas.org.