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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is the Jericho Project?
  • The Jericho Project is Shelby County’s initiative to link persons with serious mental illness who are in custody to community-based behavioral health services. Resources for the Jericho Project are funded by Shelby County Government and managed through the Division of Community Services.

  • What is a “serious mental illness” for the purpose of the Jericho Project?
  • A “serious mental illness” that qualifies for services through the Jericho Project is any diagnosis under Axis I of the DSM-IV that materially relates to the client’s criminal justice issues. Examples include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizo affective disorder or schizophrenia. It does not include mental retardation, antisocial personality disorder, ADD or ADHD. (Note: Jericho requires documentation of serious mental illness by a medical treatment provider.
  • What is a “co-occurring disorder”?
  • A co-occurring disorder is the presence of both a serious mental illness and substance abuse problem. Seventy-four percent (74%) of detainees with a serious mental illness also have significant substance use disorders. Jericho attempts to link clients to services that integrate treatment and services for both.
  • Who can refer someone to the Jericho Project?
  • Ultimately, the client’s attorney is responsible for a referral to the Jericho Project. However, we can receive referrals from almost any source – the Jail Mental Health Unit, Pretrial Services, Judges, the individual client or the client’s family. When we get referrals from anyone other than the client’s attorney, that attorney is notified to make the determination whether services through the Jericho Project will benefit the legal strategy for the client. If the attorney does not endorse the referral, we do not proceed further.
  • What factors determine whether someone is accepted into Jericho?
  • The client must have a serious mental illness, be medically stable enough for the linkage to be successful and be willing to embrace treatment as part of the defense strategy. The client is interviewed by a team of mental health professionals to determine readiness for safe release to community treatment. Once approved, the Jericho team will attempt to assemble a comprehensive plan of services that meet the recovery goals of the client.
  • What will exclude a client from consideration for Jericho?
  • Every case is reviewed individually. However, there are some conditions that preclude linkage. Common scenarios are when: charges are not probatable; the client refuses to accept treatment on a voluntary basis; the client stops taking medication during the referral process; the forensic evaluation recommends judicial hospitalization as a danger to self or others, or the client decompensates or becomes so incapacitated that s/he is unable to understand or follow the plan. If Jericho is not able to serve the client, the attorney will be consulted as soon as that determination is made.
  • Do you accept persons with mental retardation?
  • Jericho is not resourced to provide services to persons whose only diagnosis is mental retardation. If an individual has a serious mental illness, in addition to mental retardation, we may be able to develop a plan for the client, depending on the severity of the mental retardation and what services may be available.
  • How long does it take?
  • It’s not possible to give a strict time-line. The time to develop a plan varies, depending on what services are needed and what is available. A good practice is to allow for three weeks between initial referral and the next court date. Referrals to the Roundtable are made quickly, once the completed packet is received. The client is interviewed several times by different team members to determine whether s/he qualifies to receive services though Jericho and to develop the Community Linkage Plan. In most cases, a plan will be developed within three weeks from the time the case is presented to the Roundtable. Where delays occur, it is usually due to a lack of safe housing options.
  • What do I expect back when I make a referral?
  • If all goes well you will get a Community Linkage Plan tailored to the needs of your client. The CLP is a high quality plan for transitional services suitable for inclusion by reference into various kinds of court orders. We will also prepare supplemental orders to approve the plan depending on the release strategies you are advocating on behalf of your client.
  • What are the best court days?
  • Tuesdays and Wednesdays are best as releases are typically scheduled for the next morning. Avoid Thursdays, Fridays and any day closer than two days to a holiday. Mondays are okay if the linkage is agreed to by the AG.
  • What is the Jericho Roundtable?
  • The Roundtable is a group that meets twice weekly in the jury dorm conference room. Representatives from the PD, Pretrial Services, the Jail Mental Health Unit and the Jericho provider team review new referrals, develop community linkage plans, engage in problem-solving, and coordinate delivery of communication needed by the court system. Kena Vassar coordinates the Roundtable process.
  • What happens if it is taking too long to get a workable plan?
  • At any time prior to approval by a judge, the attorney or client can terminate Jericho involvement and proceed with disposition of the case in another manner that best meets the client’s needs.
  • What happens after the client is released with a Community Linkage Plan?
  • Jericho services are transitional in nature and are available for 120 days. When the client has been released on a Community Linkage Plan, a good practice is to reset the case 30 days for a status review. Status dates are useful tools to support a successful linkage. Depending on client progress, we may ask for one or two more status review dates within the 120 day window. Once linkage is secure, the matter can be dropped from further court review.
  • What is a Recovery Support Specialist?
  • These are the experienced social workers employed by Comprehensive Counseling Network who are working with your client during the transition period, providing intensive transitional case management services. They provide transportation from the jail, assist client in meeting the obligations in the linkage plan, coordinate outpatient treatment needs, and provide communication as needed to the court system regarding compliance. Their job is to do all they can to get the client connected to permanent services to support ongoing recovery.
  • What happens when things go wrong with the plan?
  • “Relapse is a part of recovery,” is the mantra from treatment providers and you should expect some ups and downs. The Jericho team is required by court order to provide notice of material noncompliance to the supervising agency. But, once noncompliance is reported, the Jericho team will attempt to re-engage your client and work through the treatment issues.
  • Does my client have to plead “guilty” in order to receive treatment?
  • No. Jericho plans are flexible and can be used to support a request for pretrial release. Other uses include release pending a VOP or PRSS. Many are negotiated directly into front end county or state probation.
  • Does my client have to be in custody?
  • Yes, almost always. While there are some very rare exceptions, the resources provided by Shelby County are meant to get persons with mental illness out of jail. That said, there may be other things we can do to assist you with your out-of- custody client. Please contact Kena Vassar.

Vasco A. Smith, Jr. County Administration Building • (901) 222-2300
160 North Main Street Memphis TN 38103
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