PSA is committed to assessing accurately the extent of defendant drug involvement and providing or facilitating treatment as appropriate. Defendants under pretrial release are assessed for substance use disorders and/or mental health needs, and connected with employment, housing, and/or other social services through PSA’s Social Services and Assessment Center.
PSA’s Social Services and Assessment Center (SSAC) serves as a comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder treatment assessment center for defendants. While generally about half of those assessed as needing treatment are placed in treatment, in many instances, placement is not made because the defendant’s case is dismissed, treatment is not ordered by the judicial officer, or the defendant may refuse treatment. The SSAC performs the following types of assessments and referrals:
Mental Health Assessment—A process where formal instruments are used to determine whether a defendant has or may have a mental health condition that requires further assessment and services. The assessment also considers the potential impact of the problem on the defendant’s compliance with supervision. The assessment, typically conducted by PSA Community Treatment Specialists, examines recent and historical information in all of the major life areas, and may be performed in conjunction with a substance disorder assessment. These assessments also may be conducted by a D.C. Department of Behavioral Health liaison prior to a defendant’s initial release. The assessment does not result in a mental health diagnosis and is used solely to determine whether a defendant should be supervised by the Specialized Supervision Unit or otherwise placed in mental health services. All full mental health evaluations are performed by referral to private or publicly-funded community providers.
Psychological Testing—Written, visual, and/or verbal evaluations administered by or under the supervision of a psychologist or other qualified clinician to assess cognitive, personality, intelligence, and emotional functioning.
Substance Use Disorder Assessment—A process where formal instruments are used to determine the extent of a defendant’s substance use disorder and any resulting complications, and includes an examination of recent and historical information in all of the major life areas. The assessment, typically conducted by PSA Community Treatment Specialists, is used to determine whether a defendant has a substance-related problem requiring professional treatment. The assessment does not result in a diagnosis, but does result in a problem severity-related treatment placement recommendation. Substance use disorder assessments may be ordered by the Court or performed in the absence of a court order if the defendant consents.
Substance Use Disorder Referral—Instructions to a defendant to report to a specific provider to receive substance use disorder assessment and/or treatment services. A defendant is referred for a substance use disorder assessment upon self-disclosure of drug use, by court order or by recommendation of the Pretrial Services Officers.