Mental Health Alternatives Program (MAP)

The Mental Health Alternatives Program (MAP), formerly known as the Community Justice Alternatives program (CJA), is a therapeutic court that uses continuous and intense judicially supervised treatment and services to reduce repeated criminal activity. The purpose of therapeutic courts, sometimes referred to as mental health courts or drug courts, is to remove a defendant’s case(s) from the criminal trial track and allow the defendant the opportunity to obtain treatment services to address underlying issues that may have contributed to the conduct that led to their arrest. Successful participation in the program can help break the cycle of arrest and release for some defendants, set them on a path to recovery and stability, and reduce the impact on the community.

There are a wide variety of therapeutic court programs in trial courts throughout the state, addressing the spectrum of social issues that can contribute to criminal activity. Theft and criminal trespassing are the most common charges accepted into Everett’s MAP, followed by assault, criminal mischief, and unlawful camping.
Mental Health Alternatives Program team

Participants commit to a program term of 12 months minimum, which may be extended as a sanction or as otherwise appropriate. The MAP team, which consists of the judge, a city prosecutor, a public defender, the program liaison and a judicial assistant, works with each participant to come up with an individualized plan for medical treatment and/or lifestyle changes to help remove obstacles in order to better comply with court mandates. 

Based on the recommendations of the program liaison, prosecutor and public defender, the judge sets conditions for each participant, such as meeting with a case manager or treatment provider, submitting to drug or alcohol testing, securing a better living environment and/or seeking  opportunities for stable employment. The judge also establishes sanctions or incentives to manage progress through the program. Sanctions could include judicial reprimand, jail time, increased requirements to appear in court, or removal from the program. Incentives include fewer court appearances, reduced supervision requirements, and, ultimately, graduation from the program and dismissal of charges. 
 
As of November 2015, there are 19 active participants in the program and several more in the referral/observation process that precedes entry into the program. Since the program’s inception in mid-2013, 10 participants have graduated and only two have been terminated for non-compliance.  The 10 graduates had a combined 125 criminal charges on their records before they entered the program.  Only one of the 10 graduates has had a criminal charge since graduating from the program.  

The MAP team continues to monitor and analyze data from the program. Beginning in January, the team will work with a group of students and faculty advisors at the UW Evans School of Public Policy to evaluate the effectiveness of MAP and to identify any needed changes. The MAP program was chosen as part of the School’s Public Service Clinics, and the work should be completed by summer 2016.

The liaison position is currently provided via Bridgeways and funded through the Regional Support Network Medicaid Administration. The liaison works directly with participants in referring for mental health treatment, education and other needed services.