By the CSG Justice Center Staff
With more than 200,000 people in California currently in state or local correctional institutions, “reentry” is an issue of unique importance for state and local policymakers. To help these policymakers tap into the latest research and best practices, The Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the Chief Probation Officers of California (CPOC) have named a senior policy fellow to provide support to California policymakers interested in learning more about “what works” in reentry as well as promising approaches from around the country on specific issues, such as employment or accessing treatment in rural communities.
This fellowship supported as part of the National Reentry Resource Center (NRRC), which is administered by the CSG Justice Center and funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA).
Deanna Adams, an attorney who most recently served as program director for Friends Outside, a reentry program in Santa Cruz County, was selected for the year-long fellowship after a competitive application process. She brings experience with cognitive behavioral programs and interagency collaboration to the role, which will be based at CPOC’s headquarters in Sacramento.
“We are excited to have the opportunity to work with Ms. Adams,” said Ventura County Chief Probation Officer and CPOC President Mark Varela. “We know that there is a lot of great work happening across the state, but it isn’t easy for us to stop and sift through the different practices taking place in 58 counties. Her work can help us pinpoint where there are already effective strategies in place and where we should be dedicating more attention in the future.”
Helping policymakers craft policies that can better support people with behavioral health needs returning to their communities after incarceration is one issue already prioritized for the senior fellow’s work. It will complement a number of initiatives underway that are focused on reducing the prevalence of people with mental illnesses in jails—including the launch in Sacramento this May of Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Prevalence of People with Mental Illness in Jail, hosted by the California State Association of Counties, the California State Sheriffs’ Association, and CPOC.
“[Behavioral health] is an important issue for the senior fellow’s focus,” said San Diego County Chief Probation Officer Mack Jenkins, a member of the CSG Justice Center’s Board of Directors and CPOC’s Executive Committee. “From a community corrections perspective, we regularly see people with mental illnesses and substance use disorders cycle through our local justice systems without getting the help they need, and at a great cost to both public safety and public health.”
Ms. Adams will be joining the CSG Justice Center team just in time for the national reentry conference, Justice and Mental Health Collaboration/Second Chance in Action: Practical Strategies to Deliver Results, which will be held December 15–18 in Washington, DC.
Deanna Adams can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org starting November 2015.