The Innovative Program Reduces Recidivism, Provides Mental Health Assistance, and Saves the County $2 Million
The Cochise County Attorney’s Office has been recognized for the development of the GRACe Program (Giving Recovery a Chance), an alternative to traditional prosecution for defendants who are afflicted by mental health problems.
Earlier this month, the program earned a top honor at the Arizona Association of Counties (AACo) 2021 Summit Awards, a statewide competition of county governments meant to recognize innovative problem-solving at the county level. The GRACe Program is awarded the Summit Award in the Criminal Justice & Public Safety category for its unique development in providing assistance to those charged with committing minor legal offenses, due to challenges in accessing proper and consistent mental health treatment, thus reducing repeat offenses.
Eligible defendants who participate in the GRACe Program are assigned to a Mental Health Coordinator who assists with the facilitation of mental and social services needed for them to live a normal life. Once a defendant has successfully completed their treatment plan, as determined by a medical or mental health professional, and completed the GRACe Program, their case(s) are dismissed.
The project drew praise for its implementation of a Mental Health Coordinator, its dramatic decrease in recidivism among program participants, and a savings of $2 million in restoration to competency costs. The GRACe Program even secured a Legacy Foundation grant to help provide additional assistance to program participants.
“The GRACe Program required a paradigm shift, refusing to do things the way they’d always been done,” said AACo Executive Director Jen Marson. “The dedication the Cochise County Attorney’s office has to this program benefits the entire County by fostering community safety and improving the lives of Cochise residents – plus they saved the County money by doing the work themselves.”
For more information about the GRACE program, visit https://www.cochise.az.gov/196/Alternative-to-Prosecution-Programs.