Have you found yourself in a situation where you have committed an offence, but is was due to your poor housing situation, your alcohol or drug problem, or due to a disability or mental health condition? If so, then the Court Integrated Services Program (CISP) can provide you with the support and services you need to reduce the chance of you re-offending, and help you get back on track. CISP is available at the Latrobe Valle, Melbourne and Sunshine Magistrates’ Courts.
What is CISP?
The program provides a team based approach to the assessment and treatment of those that are in the court system. The aim of CISP is to reduce the risk of you reoffending by providing support services for drug and alcohol treatment, disability and mental health services, and crisis accommodation. CISP can provide assistance prior to sentencing if you have health and social needs. It can also address the cause of why you offended through case management support, and provide access to community support services. The program is available to you prior to you entering a plea, and is not based on you entering a guilty plea. You can still enter the program even if you intend to plead not guilty.
How do I access CISP?
There are many different ways you can be referred to CISP. These include a referral from the police, your lawyer, the Magistrate or you can advise the court staff that you want to participate in the program. You will then need to complete a referral form which is available on the Magistrates’ Court of Victoria website. You will need to complete the form relevant for the Court location you are attending. Once you have completed and lodged the form with CISP staff at the court, they will assess your application, and look and the risk of reoffending and the causes of your offence. They will then provide a report to the Magistrate who will decide whether or not you are eligible. The Magistrates decision will be based on your criminal history, any indicators that you will reoffend, whether you have any physical, mental or disabilities, any drug or alcohol dependency, and if you have inadequate social, family and economic support which may contribute to your offending.
What happens if I am accepted into CISP?
If the Magistrate approves your application you will be assigned a case manager who will develop a treatment plan for you, which involves case management of up to four months. This will provide you with referrals to support services within the community depending on your individual needs. The case manager will continue to monitor your progress and provide feedback to the Court throughout your time on the program. At the completion of the program you will be required to return to Court, enter a plea, and be sentenced by the Magistrate. Your participation in CISP and what you have achieved will be taken into account during sentencing. Further information is available in the CISP brochure.
Will participating in CISP help me?
Studies of the program have found that over a two year period 50.5% of CISP participants incurred no further charges and a 30.4% drop in re-offending frequency by those who did. There was also a remarkable decrease in the seriousness of offending post CISP program involvement.