Diversion from Legal Competency Services
All individuals charged with a crime have the constitutional right to understand the nature of the charges against them and assist in their own defense (e.g. legally competence). If a court believes a mental health issue may prevent a person from assisting in their own defense, the court puts the criminal case on hold (per RCW 10.77) while an evaluation is completed to determine that individual’s legal competency to proceed with the criminal court case. If the individual is found not competent, the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) is required to provide them with competency restoration services in a timely fashion, after which point the criminal case may proceed. The majority of competency restoration services are provided in the forensic units of Western State Hospital, or at facilities in Yakima or Maple Lane in Centralia.
Trueblood et al. v. Washington State DSHS
Trueblood v. State of Washington Department of Human and Social Services, No.2:2014cv01178, Washington Western District Court, 2015, is a federal class action lawsuit challenging unconstitutional delays in competency evaluation and restoration services. Across the state, individuals suffering from significant mental illness and co-occurring disorders languish in jail for weeks or months while awaiting these court-ordered services. In April 2015, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington found that DSHS was taking too long to provide competency evaluation and restoration services and ordered that they take place within 14 and 7 days, respectively. The Court has since found DSHS in contempt and imposed monetary sanctions based on DSHS’s ongoing failure to comply. Those fines total approximately $60 million to date and are now funding diversionary programs across the state to provide treatment alternatives in the community to help Trueblood class members or potential class members avoid further legal involvement and competency services.
DCHS Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD) has partnered with all parties in the Trueblood lawsuit, the DSHS Office of Forensic Mental Health Services, the U.S. District Court and the Seattle Foundation, to build a continuum of diversion programs for individuals in King County who have a history or are at increased risk of cycling through legal competency services.
The Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) arrest diversion program is a collaborative community safety effort that offers law enforcement a credible alternative to booking people into jail for criminal activity that stems from unmet behavioral health needs or poverty. LEAD was designed to divert individuals engaged in low-level drug crime and prostitution away from the criminal legal system and is expanding to include a population with more severe mental health conditions and extreme poverty. Extension of LEAD for individuals with mental health conditions is supported by a Trueblood Phase III grant which has added capacity to the existing outreach and case management branch of the LEAD program and created ancillary resources for flexible behavioral health treatment and supportive housing. LEAD’s effectiveness in disrupting the cycling of individuals with behavioral health issues through the criminal legal system can help individuals with mental health conditions also avoid the legal competency process, during which many people wait in jail for competency evaluation or restoration services.
Services and Providers
LEAD is operated by the Public Defender Association; case management services are provided by Evergreen Treatment Services’ REACH program in collaboration with community-based behavioral health treatment and access to the Crisis Respite Program at Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC) and housing with support services from Community House Mental Health Agency.
- Public Defender Association (PDA) – Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) project management, which includes processing LEAD referrals, staffing the precinct-based Operational Workgroups and policy level systems advocacy and change, including criminal legal system reform work.PDA also manages the service provider contracts and community engagement efforts in LEAD implementation areas/neighborhoods
- Evergreen Treatment Services REACH Program – LEAD outreach, screening, and case management
- Downtown Emergency Services Center(DESC) -Community Outreach & Advocacy Team(COAT) behavioral health
- Community House Mental Health Agency (CHMHA) - Interim Supportive Housing Services
Service Delivery Framework
DESC Community Outreach & Advocacy Team (COAT)
24 access to Crisis Respite Program at DESC main shelter, including additional coordination/support -multidisciplinary team including mental health professionals, an Advance Registered Nurse Practitioner (ARNP), Registered Nurse (RN), Occupational Therapist (OT), and care coordinators -community-based, low caseload, low barrier, intensive behavioral health services -daytime crisis response for REACH-LEAD enrolled individuals in behavioral health crisis situations -on demand mental health services, including assessment, medication prescription and management, counseling, skill development, and wellness support -coordination with healthcare providers and behavioral health system partners -occupational therapy assessment and skills development
Community House - Interim Housing Services
-interim housing in North Seattle for 16 individuals for up to 12 months -daily staff support to assist tenant in meeting basic needs or accessing resources -assistance maintaining housing through tenant skill development and coaching activities of daily living -community-based assistance with resources, transportation, and coordination of services
Funding provided by: Trueblood Phase III Grant in association with Seattle Foundation and Disability Rights Washington via Trueblood et al. v. Washington State DSHS
Program Operated by: Public Defender Association, www.leadkingcounty.org
Program Administered by: King County Diversion and Reentry Services, Behavioral Health and Recovery Division (BHRD)
Provider: Community House Mental Health Agency
A voluntary program to assist individuals in getting their needs met and in staying out of jail
The Legal Intervention and Network of Care (LINC) program provides behavioral health treatment in lieu of prosecution for individuals with mental health and substance use conditions who have been booked into jail for misdemeanors and low level felonies. The program serves adults with behavioral health conditions who have been referred by a prosecutor willing to dismiss a charge or refrain from filing one if the individual agrees to participate in LINC. Individuals do not have to be Medicaid enrolled to be eligible for LINC services.
Model of Care
LINC is a short-term flexible program (~6 months) that works with individuals to connect them with various resources and long-term supports, such as behavioral health treatment and social services resources, with dedicated access to:
- Individual, supportive, outreach case management for assistance with resources and advocacy
- Legal coordination to meet existing court obligations and avoid new charges
- Services can be provided across settings, including in the community, jail, and hospital
- 7 respite beds in staffed residential facilities (availability varies) – see below for more information
- A psychiatric ARNP who can provide assessment and medication management. Medication can be provided through our pharmacy, and picked up at Community House.
- Day treatment through Community House to support engagement with behavioral health treatment and participation in productive and meaningful activity
- Peer support services
Respite beds are a temporary place for participants to stabilize after leaving jail.
Hilltop: 4 Beds
- Located in our Long-Term Residential facility, Hilltop, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood
Firwood: 3 Beds
- Located in our Long-Term Residential facility, Firwood, in the Greenwood neighborhood
Both facilities include:
- 3 meals per day
- Medication management available
- 24/7 staff
Partnerships with the Prosecutorial Partners are key to the LINC Program
Seattle City Attorney’s Office
King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
This program receives funding from the State of Washington Office of Forensic Mental Health and a Trueblood Phase I Grant from the Seattle Foundation on behalf of the Federal Court Monitor for Trueblood et. al. v. Washington State DSHS.