An individual experiencing a mental health crisis runs the risk of ending up in jail. It's become a cliché that county jails have become the largest mental health facilities in some states. However, jails aren't equipped to handle the needs of people with mental illness, and often an individual leaves jail in a worse condition than when they entered. Now some states are looking for alternative solutions to putting the mentally ill in jail. In Minnesota, FACT teams are working toward that goal.
Minnesota is turning to Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT) teams to help alleviate the problem of mentally ill individuals in the criminal justice system. FACT teams are based on ACT (Assertive Community Treatment) teams, which were created in the 1970s in the wake of privatization of psychiatric hospitals. The goal of the ACT team was to keep people in the community and away from hospitals. ACT teams met with individuals where they lived and helped provide them with therapeutic and medical resources to assist them with their mental illness.
Similarly, FACT teams aim to provide individuals with resources in the community so that they can avoid time in jail. FACT teams ensure that people receive the treatment they need to cope with their illness and function in the community. Members of FACT teams are trained to interact with individuals with mental illness and help provide them with the help they need. Regular meetings are scheduled, and members of FACT teams meet with individuals where they live, making meetings more convenient and accessible. Caseworkers work with the individuals on vocational skills and techniques for coping with the daily stressors of life. They also try to help people stay out of trouble with the law.
Many individuals who work with FACT teams are on probation. FACT teams work closely with local probation departments to ensure that probation officers are aware of the unique challenges individuals with mental illness face. This could prevent an individual from being cited for a probation violation if the alleged violation was a result of their mental illness. The hope is that many people choose to stay with the program even when their probation is complete so that they can receive further resources.
If you or a loved one has a mental disability and has been arrested or convicted of a crime, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side. Elizabeth Kelley specializes in representing individuals with mental disabilities. To schedule a consultation call (509) 991-7058.