Massachusetts Set to Launch Behavioral Health Pilot to Reduce Risk of Recidivism

By The Council of State Governments Justice Center Staff

US Map with MA highlightedBeginning next month, people in Massachusetts who are involved in the criminal justice system, have serious mental illnesses and/or substance addictions, and are at a high risk of reoffending will be eligible to receive individualized supports and services through a new pilot program.

As part of the pilot—which is launching in two counties—staff from two nonprofit behavioral health care providers will meet with eligible participants before they are released from the correctional system. During this meeting, staff will create tailored treatment plans for the participant as well as help them get appointments with health care providers, access various social services, and find housing.

This pilot program stems from policy recommendations made during the state’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative in 2015. As a result of this initiative, Massachusetts invested more than $1 million in providing specialized treatment services to people who have substance addictions, mental illnesses, or co-occurring disorders and are at a high risk of reoffending. To develop the pilot, law enforcement partnered with the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services.

Enrollment for the pilot will begin in August 2019 in Middlesex and Worcester counties. If the program is successful, it will expand throughout the state in 2021