Substance Abuse

The majority of people in prison and jail have a substance use disorder. Despite the promise demonstrated by some treatment programs for people who are incarcerated, just a fraction of the people who need services for substance abuse receive it. Connecting people incarcerated to treatment programs proven to be effective, prioritizing resources for those nearing release, and encouraging community-based aftercare will ensure better outcomes for people released from prisons and jails, and the communities to which they return.

Substance Abuse FAQs

Providing answers on relevant topics concerning Mental Health, Health and Substance Abuse topics.

Recent Posts

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Salt Lake County Launches Study of Criminal Justice System

The Criminal Justice Advisory Council (CJAC) today announced plans for a comprehensive analysis of Salt Lake County’s jail population in an effort to identify ways to reduce reoffense rates among people released from jail and design strategies to improve outcomes for the large portion of the jail population struggling with mental and/or substance use disorders.

Denise O'Donnell

BJA Director Delivers Statement at Senate Hearing on Law Enforcement Responses to Americans with Mental Illnesses and Disabilities

At the April 29th hearing—“Law Enforcement Responses to Disabled Americans: Promising Approaches for Protecting Public Safety”—Director Denise O’Donnell of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) delivered statements about the department’s support for evidence-based practices and promising interventions for individuals with mental illnesses and/or disabilities who are involved with the justice system.

U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Assistance

Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program Grant Recipients Convene for Orientation and Training

To help federal grant recipients learn how to develop successful criminal justice and mental health collaborations, the Council of State Governments Justice Center, with support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, hosted its fifth annual training and orientation conference, “Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery” on May 13–14 in National Harbor, Maryland.

Announcements

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Survey of Mental Health Screening Practices in Jails

With the assistance of the American Jail Association and many state organizations, Policy Research Associates is currently exploring how the Brief Jail Mental Health Screen is being used across the United States.

Webinars

Publications

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West Virginia’s Justice Reinvestment

After extensive quantitative and qualitative analyses identified key challenges in the state’s criminal justice system, policymakers developed a policy framework designed to strengthen community supervision, increase accountability, and expand access to substance use treatment.

Federal Interagency Reentry Council

Snapshot: Health Care and Behavioral Health

While many prisoners receive the treatment and care they need while incarcerated, some do not, and there is often a lack of continuity in care from inside the prison to care in the community.

Recent headlines

Fewer S.C. Convicts Returning to Prison, Study Finds

A study released this summer noted an 18 percent drop in recidivism in the Palmetto State, a decline surpassed only by North Carolina among the eight states involved in the review, according to the Council of State Governments Justice Center and the National Re-entry Resource Center.

California Prisons to Dramatically Alter Treatment for Mentally Ill Inmates

Four months after a federal judge in Sacramento declared that conditions for mentally ill inmates in the state’s prisons were “horrific,” California corrections officials unveiled sweeping new policies that will house them in specially designed units, provide greater time out of their cells and offer vastly increased treatment for the ill prisoners.

Survey: 70 Percent of Jail Inmates Are Mentally Ill

Standard Examiner By Cathy Mckitrick A staggering percentage of individuals held in county jails around the United States suffer from mental illness and substance use disorders. This trend is pushing law enforcement and corrections professionals to seek better ways to [...]

Kentucky Laws May Become Models for Other States

The Council of State Governments will consider adopting 12 bills from Kentucky as model legislation at its August annual meeting. The bills, all of which became law, range from the well-publicized Juvenile Justice Reform Act to a lesser-known bill that provided civil liability protections to engineers and architects who volunteer their services after a natural disaster or emergency.