BY DEBBIE PAGE
debbiepage.iredellfreenews@gmail.com

Members of the Iredell Reentry Council are channeling renewed enthusiasm, after two years of COVID-19 Zoom meetings, into resuming planning for a Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) analysis, delayed from fall of 2020.

This SIM process seeks to improve the community’s supports for individuals with mental health issues and substance use disorders who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

Council chair Pam Navey commended Parters Health Management and the N.C. Department of Public Safety for the recent reentry simulation, which helped participants learn about the difficulties during the first month of trying to build a life after leaving prison.

“It let us walk a mile in their shoes. It was a great benefit to don’t understand their disconnect from the community,” said Navey.

Christy Hammill, peer support specialist for Integrated Care of Greater Hickory, said that she struggled through the experience, calling it difficult and frustrating. “It made me think more about what people go through,” she said. “It put things in perspective for me.”

Jerry Campbell, community engagement specialist with Partners, said that Mooresville Mayor Miles Atkins’ words and presence were impactful, as was the participation of community leaders like District Attorney Sarah Kirkman, Iredell County Health Department Director Jane Hinson, and Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce President & CEO Shannon Viera.

Campbell echoed Viera’s comments in the session after the simulation — that the community has much to do to solve these reintegration issues, and that these folks face many limitations and challenges that few think about.

Navey noted that these recently released people need opportunities, services, connections, and follow-up support to avoid being sent back to prison. Finding employment and meeting work commitments, obtaining transportation and finding housing, and getting to required parole meetings and treatment sessions can be overwhelming without preparation prior to release and a support system after release.

Additionally, Navey celebrated Davis Regional Medical Center’s transition to a mental health treatment facility.

“This is good news for Iredell County — to have the follow-through of these mental health services. I know so many who have need for this.”

“I applaud their efforts and look forward to working actively with them as partners as we encounter those who need access to services in Iredell County.”

PLANNING FOR FALL SIM SESSIONS

The Reentry Council is in the planning stages to start the SIM analysis, hopefully this fall, under the direction of expert state facilitators, who will examine the community’s available resources, look at how to optimize them, identify and make suggestions to fill any gaps in services, and assist in developing local strategic action plans.

The SIM mapping process brings together leaders, agencies, and systems to collaborate as they identify strategies to divert people with mental and substance use disorders away from the justice system and into treatment.

The process also introduces community leaders and staff to evidence-based and emerging best practices at each intercept and enhances relationships across systems and local agencies as stakeholders create a customized, local map and action plan to address identified gaps.

The facilitators will also help the Reentry Council find grants to help fund resources for identified gaps in the continuum of services. The sessions will take about 12 hours over two days.

Navey said the council’s most important task is “getting everyone to the table, especially the community’s decision-makers, the boots-on-the-ground people, and organization leaders.”

Navey envisions the creation of a coalition of all these government, legal, and helping agencies and organizations for those with criminal justice involvement, substance use disorder, and mental health issues, much like the Iredell Drug-Alcohol Coalition.

The process will look at how justice-involved individuals move through the criminal justice system and the various points of where interventions can occur, she said. From that, a visual depiction of the ways treatment and support systems interact with the local criminal justice system will emerge.

Creating this system will help connect people with early treatment and supports that will more likely keep them from re-entering the costly criminal justice system and assist them in becoming self-supporting, contributing community members.

Navey noted that N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein wants all communities to go through this SIM process and to get law enforcement, local agencies, helping organizations, and community members trained in Crisis Intervention.

“We need a commitment from the groups who want to be part of action and change,” said Navey, who said preliminary meetings are already happening with important stakeholders to promote information exchange and sharing of resources for those in need.

Navey said support from all partners in mental health, criminal justice, substance use disorder agencies, justice-involved consumers of mental health services, and regional representatives of all these agencies who make funding decisions for these services will be crucial to the SIM analysis.

Getting data from agencies, community partners, and federal, state, and university sources is also important to help develop the intercept map.

Noelle Allen of the Iredell County EMS Community Response Support Team also suggested “involving the families of those re-entering. They will be the ones to help connect them to resources and re-integrate them into the community.”

Navey also hopes the development of veteran and recovery speciality courts will also be a part of the county’s future. She also noted that people who have been in local jail long-term also need help.

I-Care’s Shelton Moore is supportive of the coming SIM process. “The individuals that we see getting acclimated to society need instrumental supports, which are significant to their success,” he said.

Russell Wooten noted that this process will help the agencies involved to look at things from the point of view of their clients. “The mentally ill go to court without always being clearly evaluated before their trial,” he said.

Wooten also noted the importance of family involvement. “The individual is less likely to fall into recidivism if the family and community are behind them,” he said.

INTERCEPT LEVELS

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) defines the intercept levels that a justice-involved person encounters. Each will be examined in the process and compared to the services Iredell County has to offer and the gaps in each.

♦ Intercept 0: Community Services

Involves opportunities to divert people into local crisis care services. Resources are available without requiring people in crisis to call 911, but sometimes 911 and law enforcement are the only resources available. Connects people with treatment or services instead of arresting or charging them with a crime.

♦ Intercept 1: Law Enforcement

Involves diversion performed by law enforcement and other emergency service providers who respond to people with mental and substance use disorders. Allows people to be diverted to treatment instead of being arrested or booked into jail.

♦ Intercept 2: Initial Court Hearings/Initial Detention

Involves diversion to community-based treatment by jail clinicians, social workers, or court officials during jail intake, booking, or initial hearing.

♦ Intercept 3: Jails/Courts

Involves diversion to community-based services through jail or court processes and programs after a person has been booked into jail. Includes services that prevent the worsening of a person’s illness during their stay in jail or prison.

Intercept 4: ReEntry

Involves supported reentry back into the community after jail or prison to reduce further justice involve of people with mental and substance use disorders. Involves reentry coordinators, peer support staff, or community in-reach to link people with proper mental health and substance use treatment services.

Intercept 5: Community Corrections

Involves community-based criminal justice supervision with added supports for people with mental and substance use disorders to prevent violations or offenses that may result in another jail or prison stay.

GET INVOLVED

The next Reentry Council meeting will be August 17 at 10 a.m. Contact Pam Navey at pnavey@statesvillenc.net to be invited to the Zoom. The council hopes to return to in-person meetings in September.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: