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
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
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
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.