Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2022, $438,122)
The Pima County Attorney’s Office requests $592,146, including a match of $124,666, under the Enhancement Category of the FY2022 BJA Community Courts Initiative to help people arrested for minor crimes who have co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders and have been referred to the Pima County Consolidated Misdemeanor Problem-Solving (CMPS, which is pronounced compass) Court. The court, which is physically located in the Pima County Consolidated Justice Court Building, 240 N. Stone Ave., Tucson, AZ, was established in 2018 with grants from the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP) and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). During the pandemic, it suffered disruptions from court closings and planned referrals from Justice of the Peace Courts and Municipal Courts dropped off. Tucson City Court has referred almost all participants. With this request and the recent one for a JMHCP continuation grant, the CMPS Court would increase referrals to at least 10 cases per quarter and collect data to show trends and demographics to assure equity in referrals, treatment and opportunities afforded defendants. Diversity, equity and inclusion are priorities of the AZ courts and the Pima County Attorney’s Office, through training, hiring and promotion of minorities. Besides continuing and increasing the capacity of the CMPS Court program, program goals include better data collection, training, recruiting certified peer support volunteers, and initiating a restorative justice component for mentally capable, willing participants.
The expected outcomes are to increase all participants’ stability and reduce their law enforcement contacts. The program offers treatment, residential, employment and other resources to a high-need group that includes the unhoused, unemployed and people incomes below the poverty level.
An independent evaluation by University of Arizona Community Research, Evaluation and Development (CRED) team, found that between Oct. 1, 2020, and Sept. 30, 2021, there were between 21 and 25 people under CMPS Court jurisdiction at any given time and 34 total that year. Of that group, 12 were new, 10 were terminated for lack of engagement and three successfully completed the program. To be eligible for the CMPS program, they are screened to assure they have not been charged with violent or sexual crimes, they must agree to participate and generally have had at least 10 law enforcement contacts in the prior two years. If, despite repeated efforts, participants fail to comply or don’t show up, their cases are referred back to the originating court.