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Stepping up for change

Posted 9/19/23

MONTICELLO — Sullivan County Treatment Court Team Members together with Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Sullivan County agency leaders participated in a 1.5-day workshop for the development of …

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Stepping up for change


MONTICELLO — Sullivan County Treatment Court Team Members together with Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther and Sullivan County agency leaders participated in a 1.5-day workshop for the development of integrated strategies to effectively identify and respond to the needs of justice-involved adults at risk for opioid overdose. In July 2023, Sullivan County was formally designated as a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), making federal resources available to facilitate law enforcement and prosecutorial actions, to promote expansion of harm reduction efforts, and to promote access to treatment. The NYS Unified Court System aims to establish an Intervention Court as an effort to help fight the Opioid Crisis in Sullivan County. As part of the rural community initiative, Sullivan County and seven identified rural communities will receive BJA funding to start planning and operate an Intervention Court, a ninety-day intensive court supervision program to help identified individuals with serious substance use disorder and co-occurring disorders to have immediate access to treatment. This is a voluntary court program that will link individuals to much needed resources. Sequential Intercept Mapping facilitated by Policy Research Associates, Inc. (PRA) in Delmar, New York is a workshop designed

to help communities identify existing community resources, service gaps, and opportunities for improved service coordination and communication between mental health, substance abuse, and criminal justice professionals. According to Dr. Henry J. Steadman of PRA, “This workshop is a strategic planning session intended to foster systemic

change and provide each participating community with the tools necessary to move forward to enhance services for adults with mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders in contact with the justice system.”

Key agency administrators, staff, and peer advocates from the mental health, substance abuse, and criminal justice system in Sullivan County, as well as the New York State Legislature participated in Sequential Intercept Mapping which focused strategic planning efforts on cross-systems collaboration and the reduction of system and service barriers with an integrated, local action plan.

In preparation for the workshop, Sullivan County Treatment Court held conference calls with the facilitators of Policy Research Associates, Inc. and the NYS Drug Court Coordinator, Dennis Reilly and NYS Opioid Court Coordinator, Susan Sturges to discuss current practices and potential barriers to systems change.

The Planning Committee comprises Hon. Stephan G. Schick, Sullivan County Treatment Court Judge, Maria Durso, Sullivan County Deputy Chief Clerk and Junn Pato-Ryan, Sullivan County Treatment Court Coordinator. During the workshop, participants developed a map detailing the flow of criminal justice contact from arrest to incarceration, referral and access to services, and points for diversion from the justice system across Sullivan County. Strategies for systems change implemented by NYS rural communities were reviewed .

Agencies represented during the conference were: The New State Legislature, Sullivan County (SC) Office of the District Attorney, SC

Department of Social Services, SC Department of Community Services, SC Center for Workforce Development, Mobile Mental Health Crisis Team, Hope Not Handcuffs, Sullivan Legal Aid Panel, Inc.; Hudson Valley VA and Veterans Justice Program, Village of Liberty Police Department and Catholic Charities, Office of Justice Initiatives and Sullivan County Treatment Court.

Nationally, individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders are an increasing presence within the criminal justice system. Studies have shown that 6.4% of men and 12.2% of women entering U.S. jails have a severe and persistent mental illness, compared to less than 2% of the general population. Of these individuals, 72% have a co-occurring substance use disorder. This problem is especially pronounced in rural communities, where the availability, accessibility, and acceptability of behavioral health services prevent many from receiving the help that they need. With more than 650,000 individuals returning to communities each year from US prisons and seven million individuals returning from jails, effective linkage and access to community services for people with a mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorder is critical to reduce an often-repetitious cycle of justice involvement.

Information on the workshop is available at www.prainc.com or training@prainc.com.


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