Each morning the Community Partnership of Southern Arizona (CPSA)and the Regional Behavioral Health Agency (RHBA) is advised by way of an automated electronic link with the county jail, of the name and other biographical information of all persons arrested and incarcerated during the previous 24 hours. CPSA staff compares that list to all persons enrolled in mental health services, and in the case of “matches,” advise the Arraignment Judge of the defendant’s enrollment. CPSA also advises local treatment agencies of their client’s arrest, and if they are held in custody, of future court dates. Defendants who are so identified and held in custody are set for special Video Review Hearings, held by the Mental Health Division of Tucson City Court each Tuesday and Thursday at 11:00 am. Other defendants who are not the recipients of local mental heath services, but exhibit inappropriate behaviors, can also be identified as appropriate for the Mental Health Division by jail staff and the Arraignment Judge. Between the time of the Arraignment and the Video Review Hearing, the defendant receives a consultation with a court-appointed attorney and a visit from the local treatment agency Jail Liaison. At the time of the Video Review Hearing, the Judge is advised of the opinions regarding release from the City Prosecutor, who has received input from alleged victims, the Public Defender, the CPSA representative, the Jail Liaison, Southern Arizona Mental Health Corporation (SAMHC) and/or La Frontera, INC. The RAPP Team can evaluate defendants who are not currently enrolled in mental health services, at the Court’s direction, if the defendant is homeless, to determine if they are eligible for treatment. SAMAC can also, at the Court’s direction, evaluate defendants to determine whether they are appropriate for Civil Commitment. If a defendant is released from jail, he or she is ordered to have immediate contact with the appropriate case manager and to appear at all future court dates.
Conducting Video Review Hearings has been an effective means for the Mental Health Division to direct appropriate defendants toward its programs and has also decreased considerably the time these defendants spend in custody prior to case resolution. Prior to implementation of Video Review Hearings, the average length of custody for mentally ill misdemeanor defendants in the Pima County Jail was 22 days. The average has declined substantially to fewer than 8 days due to the Video Review Hearings.