Anchorage Mental Health Court
Anchorage Coordinated Resources Project (ACRP)
What is the Anchorage Coordinated Resources Project?
The Anchorage Coordinated Resources Project (ACRP) - also known as the Anchorage Mental Health Court - is a voluntary "therapeutic" or "problem-solving" court located within the Anchorage District Court. Created in 1998, ACRP hears cases involving individuals diagnosed with mental disabilities who are charged with criminal offenses, and focuses on their treatment and rehabilitation. ACRP is a post-booking diversionary response to the problem of "criminalization" - the increased likelihood that people with mental disabilities will be processed through the criminal justice system instead of the mental health system, as observed in the Anchorage area.
What is the Purpose of the ACRP?
The Anchorage Coordinated Resources Project (ACRP) is a specialized therapeutic court which employs a problem solving approach to criminal case processing for eligible Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority (AMHTA) beneficiaries to reduce the high numbers of beneficiaries in Alaska’s criminal justice system. Defendants who experience mental disabilities are more frequently jailed and detained longer than defendants who do not.
Additionally, the ACRP acts to:
- Preserve the public safety;
- Reduce inappropriate incarceration of mentally disabled offenders and promote their well-being;
- Relieve the burden on the Department of Corrections presented by inmates with mental disabilities;
- Reduce repeated criminal activity among mentally disabled offenders (legal recidivism); and
- Reduce psychiatric hospitalization of mentally disabled offenders (clinical recidivism).
Who is Eligible?
Any adult charged with a misdemeanor crime or Class C felony, who is diagnosed with a mental disability, is a Mental Health Trust Beneficiary, resides in Anchorage, is eligible for treatment in the community and wishes to voluntarily participate in the treatment oriented court process in lieu of traditional bail or sentencing conditions will be considered for participation. For more information please contact the Project Coordinator at 907-264-0886; email@example.com.
How are People Referred to the Court?
Any one can refer a person to the ACRP. Police, corrections staff, lawyers, friends, family members, community behavioral health providers, judges and court staff can refer a case simply by contacting the Project Manager and indicating that a Defendant may eligible to have their case heard in the ACRP.
How Do the Coordinated Resources Projects/Mental Health Courts Work?
The Court diverts eligible offenders with mental disabilities from jail and into appropriate community treatment, focusing on the individual therapeutic and criminogenic needs of the defendant. Research demonstrates that individuals with mental health disorders who adhere to treatment requirements cycle through jails and hospitals far less often (Ferguson, Hornby and Zeller, 2008). With the second generation of mental health courts we follow criminal justice research that emphasizes the importance of addressing criminogenic needs when the case plan is developed. Criminogenic needs1 are factors that are predictive of recidivism.
Collaborative team approach: An important highlight of the CRP is to provide a single point of contact for a criminal defendant with a mental health disorder. The project provides a multidisciplinary team of designated and trained judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys and probation officers who consistently participate in court hearings. This approach builds a base of knowledge and understanding about the individual’s therapeutic and criminogenic needs and goals. This approach also provides maximum access and accommodation for individuals with cognitive challenges who are interfacing with the criminal justice system.
Community Treatment: A defendant is eligible to receive assistance from the projects in developing, coordinating and monitoring an individualized case plan. The court orders that plan as a condition of bail or probation. Participants are monitored by Probation Officers who work exclusively with the CRP projects. CRP Probation Officers are employed by the Division of Behavioral Health, Alcohol Safety Action Program. Probation Officers provide treatment and resource matching, linkage to and monitoring of the case plan.
Monitoring by the Court: The court monitors the participant’s adherence to the case plan through regularly held status hearings and receives reports on the participant’s progress. If treatment non-adherence occurs, the court may adjust the plan to motivate adherence or employ non-jail-based sanctions or incarceration.
1 Criminogenic needs are risk factors associated with recidivism that can be impacted or changed with appropriate interventions. Criminogenic needs include problems with relationships (martial/family dysfunction), substance abuse problems, lack of education/employment, lack of pro-social leisure activities, anti-social peer group, and anti-social attitudes and values.
The ACRP meets on Monday afternoons at 2:45 p.m. in the Boney Courthouse, Room 28 with Judge Franciosi presiding. The ACRP meets on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons at 2:45 p.m. in the Boney Courthouse, Room 28 with Judge Henderson presiding.
Court is open to the public. Specialized tours and training are available by contacting the Project Coordinator at 907 264-0886 or by e mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are interested in observing court please call to confirm that court is being held on its regularly scheduled day. The number to call is 907 264-0886.
Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs publication: Emerging Judicial Strategies for the Mentally Ill in the Criminal Caseload: Mental Health Courts in Fort Lauderdale, Seattle, San Bernadino and Anchorage.