America’s criminal justice system is the de facto behavioral health treatment provider in many communities. But elected officials, criminal justice practitioners, and behavioral health service providers alike recognize the justice system is poorly positioned to treat this population. Communities are increasingly looking for alternatives that safely divert people with behavioral health needs into cost-efficient and effective community-based treatment that produces better outcomes for the individual, the community, and the justice system (Abreu et al. 2017).
Developed nearly 20 years ago, the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) was designed for communities to use “when considering the interface between criminal justice system and mental health systems as they address concerns about the criminalization of people with mental illness” (Munetz and Griffin 2006, 544). Over the past two decades, the model has gained prominence as an effective framework for systematically assessing available community resources, determining critical service gaps, identifying opportunities to safely divert people from needless involvement in the criminal justice system, and implementing reforms at six distinct justice decision points, or “intercepts.”