Beya Thayer Chosen as Director for Justice & Mental Health Coalition

10 August 2018  
 Director for Justice and Mental Health Coalition now in place 

Sheriff Mascher is pleased to announce the appointment of Ms. Beya Thayer as Executive Director for the Yavapai County Justice and Mental Health Coalition. Beya’s duties include general oversight of the Mental Health Coalition task force, the ‘Reach Out’ Program providing pre and post arrest diversion services, and various aspects of mental health training, guidance, and resource coordination for 1st responders and other partners in the criminal justice system. 

Beya was chosen for this important position due to her extensive background in mental health developed through education and training. Beya has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Arizona State University and has worked extensively in the social services arena for over 20 years. As a result, Beya has developed a network of resources and the expertise to guide the process for the related stakeholders participating in the effort to de-criminalize mental health. Beya is also on the board of End Violence Against Women International (EVAWI). This non-profit organization has been involved in implementing ‘Seek Then Speak,’ an online resource for sexual assault victims. YCSO and several local law enforcement partners, along with area victim advocacy groups, just announced their participation in the service. 

Beya will be focusing on the coordination and collaboration of the stakeholders within the Mental Health Coalition, encouraging the exchange of ideas, guiding implementation, and bringing resources to bear where they are needed. Stakeholders include, but are not limited to, Court officials, law enforcement partners, probation, County Attorney, Public Defender, school administrators, victim/family advocacy groups, behavioral health organizations, recovery program groups, etc. 

A large part of Beya’s work will be overseeing YCSO’s ‘Reach Out’ program. ‘Reach Out’ offers a service linkage to county jail inmates with appropriate behavioral health and substance abuse treatment at the earliest possible moment in the criminal justice system. The goal of ‘Reach Out’ is to reduce recidivism in our jail system and overall jail population. Recent reports indicate a reduction in jail population, some of which is attributed to ‘Reach Out,’ which began implementation in May 2018 (a media release detailing the program is available). ‘Reach Out’ also has a pre-arrest diversion focus involving trained law enforcement officers utilizing de-escalation skills in conjunction with crisis response teams to divert those with mental health issues from jail when appropriate. 

Both Sheriff Mascher and Chief Deputy David Rhodes are extremely pleased to have Beya’s expertise and oversight of mental health reform in Yavapai County as Executive Director of the Justice and Mental Health Coalition. 

 Reach Out Initiative Funding Bill Signed by Governor Ducey 

The Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office will be first in the State implementing this pilot program intended to reduce inmate recidivism by coordinating community reentry services upon release 

‘Recidivism is the single biggest driver of jail and prison populations’ 

On May 16, 2018, Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1476 which appropriates the sum of $500,000 over the next 3 fiscal years to fund the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office Reach Out Program. 

Sheriff Mascher would like to thank Arizona Senator Sylvia Allen for her efforts to make sure this bill, originally introduced under SB 1081, made it to the Governor’s desk. Senator Allen expressed her strong support for Reach Out after hearing about the program, taking the time to tour the detention facility in Camp Verde and meet with Command staff to see the impact of this initiative. The Sheriff also appreciates the Governor’s support by way of his signature authorizing the appropriation. 

Senator Allen, “I believe this is a revolutionary program the Yavapai County Sheriff has created as it changes the way we think about helping those returning to the community following incarceration. Providing these services on the front end, we will expect to see cost savings on the back end through reduced recidivism rates involving those accepted into the program. With an anticipated successful outcome from this pilot program, I would like to see this concept offered to county jails statewide. Helping those with mental illness/drug addiction get their lives back together makes the effort worthwhile and could even have an impact reducing our prison population.” 

Background - REACH OUT is a project initiated under the leadership of Sheriff Scott Mascher and his Chief Deputy, David Rhodes. The goal of Reach Out is to create a road to recovery outside of incarceration by providing service linkage to county jail inmates with appropriate behavioral health and substance abuse treatment at the earliest possible moment in the criminal justice system. In earlier comments about the program, County Attorney Shelia Polk said, “Most of what we have historically done is to provide back-end services to defendants. Reach Out is ground-breaking in that the link to services will be made upon the system’s first contact with an offender.” Chief Rhodes noted his goal that every contact by an inmate in this program is meaningful and resourceful. 

This funding, in part, will provide for director oversight, staffing, and tracking of inmates accepted into the program. Detention facility release coordinators will screen inmates suffering from mental illness, substance abuse and/or co-occurring disorders to determine history of substance abuse and mental illness, willingness for treatment, and severity of charges. From there, the coordinators will connect the inmate to partners throughout the county who can provide appropriate treatment to qualifying individuals. 

An important component of Reach Out will be cross system recidivism tracking which allows a snapshot of inmate history, status, and success to help evaluate the program at all levels and involving all stakeholders. Some of those stakeholders include courts, attorneys, pre-trail services, mental health treatment providers including behavioral health authorities and local behavioral health homes/shelters, along with community support programs in the areas of AHCCCS (Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System) assistance, transportation, education assistance, veteran’s programs, housing, etc. 

There is also a pre-arrest diversion focus in Reach Out. It involves training law enforcement officers to utilize de-escalation skills in conjunction with crisis response teams to divert those with mental health issues from jail if appropriate. 

Previous funding to help launch the Reach Out Program has come from a federal Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance, grant obtained by Chief Deputy Rhodes, an allocation of monies from Yavapai County Attorney Shelia Polk’s office earmarked for pre-trail diversion programs by the state legislature, and the Northern Arizona Regional Behavioral Health Authority (NARBA). 

Sheriff Mascher appreciates the support of all the stakeholders who share his vision of the Reach Out program’s goal to provide critical pre and post release services for those who qualify, reducing recidivism and in turn jail population, while benefiting overall community safety. With the expected positive results, the Sheriff hopes the program can spread statewide and even to those Sheriff’s agencies outside Arizona looking to reduce recidivism in their facilities. 

A copy of the complete brochure is available here - http://ycsoaz.gov/inmate-search-and-jail-information 

Citizens can contact the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office with information or questions at 928-771-3260or the YCSO website: www.ycsoaz.gov 


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Dwight D'Evelyn

Dwight D'Evelyn, YCSO Media Coordinator

Website: www.ycsoaz.gov