MENTAL HEALTH PRE TRIAL DIVERSION FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What is the Health Services PTD Program?
In partnership with the Gwinnett County Detention Center, the Solicitor’s Office launched the Health Services Pre-Trial Diversion Program in January 2012 to assist in diverting defendants with SPMI – Severe and Persistent Mental Illness – into community based treatment.  The goal of the Health Services PTD program is to improve quality of life, reduce recidivism, and improve the effective use of Court and Jail resources.

What is SPMI – Severe and Persistent Mental Illness?
SPMI is defined as chronic mental illness which interferes with a person’s daily functioning, to include the ability to hold a job, maintain relationships, or care for basic hygiene.  This is an umbrella term used to describe persons with serious mental illness diagnoses.  Mental Health clinicians utilize assessments to determine an individual’s primary diagnosis.  Examples of SPMI diagnoses include:  Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Major Depression and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. Please note that these disorders are TREATABLE and the goal is recovery.  In fact, many people function well in recovery, but will always have an SPMI.  These disorders are treatable but not curable.

What is the goal for defendants who enter into the Health Services PTD program?
The goal for defendants in the Health Services PTD program is for a mentally ill defendant to enter into recovery from his/her illness. Completing the program allows defendants to avoid a conviction on his/her criminal record.  Defendants must agree to participate in treatment, which may include but not be limited to, taking medication, going to individual or group therapy, substance abuse counseling, intensive day services, vocational training and/or placement, etc.  Participants are expected to show improvement in their condition when adhering to their clinical treatment plan.

Who is an appropriate defendant for the Health Services PTD Program?
Any person who is diagnosed with a SPMI (Clinical AXIS I diagnosis) AND whose offense is directly related to their illness may be considered for the program.

Who is not an appropriate defendant to refer to the Health Services PTD program?
Certain conditions are not responsive to treatment, or are difficult to treat with limited results. Persons who have developmental disorders, or other AXIS II diagnoses, which include Mental Retardation, Personality Disorders, or medical problems like Traumatic Brain Injury as a PRIMARY diagnosis are not appropriate for this program.  Additionally, persons with a PRIMARY diagnosis of substance dependence are not appropriate for this program.  Other Axis I disorders, such as Eating Disorders that are a PRIMARY diagnosis may not be appropriate for the program, but would be considered on a case by case basis, so long as the disorder is directly related to the offense.

What are appropriate legal criteria for referral?
Non-Violent, Misdemeanor Offenders who are approved by the prosecutors and voluntarily consent through the informed consent process are eligible to participate.  Applicants must agree to comply with treatment plans and any special conditions of bond for a minimum of six months.  All persons referred must have a mental health evaluation and treatment plan developed PRIOR to being accepted into the program.

How do I make a referral?
To refer a defendant who is currently in custody at the Gwinnett County Detention Center, contact Christy Simpson, Community Bridge Liaison – 770-619-6466 or Christy.simpson@gwinnettcounty.com

To refer a defendant who is currently in the community, contact Danielle Maybury with View Point Health, 678-209-2491 or Danielle.Maybury@VPhealth.org

Who is the treatment provider for persons enrolled in the program?
Many people with SPMI are indigent or have limited financial resources, and often will not have health benefits. For this defendant, View Point Health, the community mental health provider, will likely be their treatment provider of choice.  View Point can work with them to establish their disability benefits.  View Point Health provides multiple services including individual and group therapy, day services, housing assistance, vocational training and support and drug and alcohol programming. To learn more about the services provided at View Point, you can visit their website at http://www.myviewpointhealth.org.
Some defendants in the program have greater resources and private insurance, and would therefore utilize private clinicians.  In this case, the private clinician must complete a treatment plan and submit it to the court prior to the defendant’s acceptance in the program.  Additionally the clinician must agree to the mandated reporting by the court (usually monthly reporting to the Probation Officer), with potential for court appearances, prior to the candidates acceptance in the program. 

Who monitors compliance with the treatment plan?
There is a Probation Officer who is responsible for the oversight of all defendants enrolled in the program.  The Officer meets regularly with all participants and gets regular status reports from the treatment provider, including changes to the treatment recommendations.  If a defendant is non-compliant, the Probation Officer will conference with the Solicitor’s Office and the treatment providers to determine the appropriate course of action within 24-hours of notification of non-compliance.  Additionally, the Judge presiding over the case may require status checks in court to monitor compliance. 

Is there a cost to defendants enrolled in the Health Services PTD program?
Defendants in the Health Services PTD program will be responsible for nominal fees during the course of enrollment, but there is no initial cost to enroll in the program.