Trueblood Diversion Program
Why is this a priority?
Pierce County Jail’s Mental Health Unit became one of the largest mental health service providers in the County. Adult prisons and jails are increasingly filled with individuals with mental health and substance use disorders who are not getting appropriate help in the community.
All criminal defendants have the constitutional right to assist in their own defense. If a court believes a mental disability may prevent a defendant from assisting in their own defense, the court puts the criminal case on hold while an evaluation is completed to determine the defendant’s competency.
If the evaluation finds the defendant competent, they are returned to stand trial. However, if the court finds the evaluation shows the person is not competent, the court will then order the defendant to receive mental health treatment to restore competency.
In April 2015, a federal court found that the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) was taking too long to provide these competency evaluation and restoration services.
Trueblood v DSHS (Trueblood) is a case challenging unconstitutional delays in competency evaluation and restoration services. As a result of this case, the State has been ordered to provide court-ordered competency evaluations within fourteen days and competency restoration services within seven days. Trueblood helps individuals who are detained in city and county jails awaiting a competency evaluation or restoration services and individuals who have previously received competency evaluation and restoration services, who are released and at-risk for re-arrest or re-institutionalization.
How are we doing?
The Trueblood Diversion Program was launched in March 2018 to provide assessments, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, case management, employment, and social services to reduce recidivism and improve the lives of the Trueblood class members.
Of the court-involved individuals who meet the criteria for Trueblood assessment, over 75% have been diverted from traditional criminal prosecution. Nearly 5% were diverted from the criminal justice system, and just over 20% were screened but were not eligible for Trueblood services.