(PHOENIX – June 15, 2020) Southwest Behavioral & Health Services (SB&H), an innovative leader in Behavioral Health, today announced that its Criminal Justice Engagement Team (CJET) has received a Criminal Justice and Public Safety Achievement Award from the National Association of Counties (NACo). The award is based on outstanding achievement of effective and innovative program implementation in reducing criminal justice involvement for individuals suffering the effects of serious mental illness (SMI).


Around eight percent of those incarcerated in Maricopa County struggle with SMI. Southwest Behavioral & Health Services formed CJET in partnership with the County and community stakeholders to offer viable alternatives to costly incarceration. The CJET team works with individuals playing an active role in their recovery and helps individuals to avoid future jail time by connecting them to appropriate healthcare and community support services. CJET staff are experienced in navigating the criminal justice and behavioral health systems and have adopted practices to promote early identification of program candidates with SMI and explore all options to reduce jail time. The project is also creating long term systemic change in how Behavioral Health and Correctional Health work together to produce positive outcomes.


As a voluntary program, newly-incarcerated participants and correctional health staff work with CJET to create a safe community release and treatment plan. Once approved by a Judicial Officer, the participant is released into the care of CJET to carry out the treatment plan and assist with successful reintegration back into the community. Individuals who successfully obtain behavioral health treatment have an increased likelihood of avoiding future contacts with the criminal justice system.


“In the past two years of the program, 71 percent of participants followed through with their community release plans, said Deborah Woodard, Vice President of Community Resilience at SB&H. “By implementing alternatives and offering integrated healthcare, we’re able to provide the opportunities and support people really need in order to be successful in the community. The outcome has been a reduction in jail recidivism within the target population.”


About Southwest Behavioral & Health Services

Incorporated in 1974 as a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Southwest Behavioral & Health Services provides services in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, rural Maricopa County, Gila, Mohave, Coconino, and Yavapai counties. Our Mission: “We inspire people to feel better and reach their potential. Through helping people discover their strengths, we improve our communities.” SB&H offers an array of programs to meet the unique needs of the communities we serve. These include outpatient mental health treatment and psychiatric services including medication monitoring; assistance for persons with addictions; intensive inpatient care for persons in crisis; residential housing, in-home and supported housing services; prevention services, community outreach and school-based counseling; services throughout the lifespan for members with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD); and four opioid replacement clinics throughout the state that are working tirelessly to save lives and help alleviate the statewide crisis. More recently, integrated care and value based contracting have been initiated to offer a more flexible and culturally sensitive approach to clients served and resolve the historical challenges of fragmented care. For more information on SB&H, please visit










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