Alternatives to Incarceration Sequential Intercept Model

The County of San Diego and our health and justice partners utilize the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM) for strategic planning of programs and services offered through the Alternatives to Incarceration initiative.  See the below graphic and information from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for a breakdown of the SIM.  You can read more about the SIM and each intercept on SAMHSA’s website.

Intercept 0 (Community Services): Involves interventions for people with mental health and/or substance use disorders prior to formal involvement with the criminal justice system. Examples of services at this intercept include Mobile Crisis Response Teams, use of crisis lines such as the Access and Crisis Line or 211, and other services that reduce reliance on emergency response and law enforcement. 

Intercept 1 (Law Enforcement): Law enforcement and other emergency services, such as PERT, respond to crises in the community involving mental health and/or substance use disorder. When a person in crisis exhibits illegal behavior, law enforcement has the discretion to either place the person under arrest and take them to jail, or divert them to treatment or services if there is a demonstrated need and the person is eligible. Effective diversion at Intercept 1 is supported by trainings, programming, and policies that integrate behavioral health and law enforcement to enable and promote the diversion of people with mental illness away from jail and into community-based treatment or services.

Intercept 2 (Initial Court Hearings and Initial Detention): Individuals who are arrested will undergo intake and booking at a local facility and appear before a judge at an initial court hearing. Proper identification of individuals living with mental health and/or substance use disorders is crucial at this intercept to allow proper placement of these individuals and connect them with pre-trial services that meet their need, whether in jail or an alternative setting. 

Intercept 3 (Jails/Courts): People who have mental health and/or substance use disorders who have not yet been diverted at previous intercepts may be held in pre-trial detention while waiting for their case to be heard in court. This intercept may involve Collaborative Courts such as Behavioral Health Court, Drug Court, or Homeless Court that can "sentence" an individual to treatment in lieu of jail time. For those who remain incarcerated, this intercept involves jail-based programming that supports defendants in a trauma-informed, evidence-based manner during their incarceration.

Intercept 4 (Re-Entry): Individuals transition from jail back into the community. This intercept requires thorough transition planning, and may also involve in-reach from service providers, to ensure people with high levels of need can access and utilize essential services such as mental health and/or substance use disorder treatment, housing, health care, transportation, documentation and legal services, and public benefits. Justice-involved individuals often encounter barriers to accessing these services, making client-centered, needs-based reentry planning an essential component of one's trajectory.

Intercept 5 (Community Corrections): Individuals released from jail to the community are supervised by the Probation Department, which serves as an arm of the court to provide community-based supervision plans that take into account the unique needs of the individual. Use of validated assessment tools, staff training on mental and substance use disorders, and responsive services, such as specialized caseloads, are vital to reducing unnecessary violations, decreasing criminal re-offense, and improving behavioral health outcomes, through enhanced connections to services and coordination of behavioral health treatment and supervision goals.

Sequential Intercept Model