Background & Approach
Yakima County in south-central Washington State encompasses the city of Yakima and the surrounding areas. Through the Innovation Fund, Yakima County used a Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) mapping process to bring together agencies and leaders to see how people with serious mental illness and substance use disorder move through the justice system. Through this process, the county was able to address misconceptions about how different agencies operate, enhance collaboration, and forge new partnerships. Those involved developed a deeper understanding of people with serious mental illness in the justice system and the barriers and challenges they face. One result is that Designated Crisis Responders (DCR’s) now respond to calls alongside local law enforcement agencies throughout the Yakima Valley. The crisis responders are able to provide assessment and referral services to individuals who might otherwise go to jail.
Yakima County continues to engage with the Safety and Justice Challenge Network to rethink and redesign its criminal justice system so that it is more fair, just, and equitable for all.