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How and Why Medicaid Matters for People with Serious Mental Illness Released from Jail

Council of State GovernmentsThis fact sheet from the Council of State Governments Criminal Justice/Mental Health Consensus Project, in conjunction with the Re-Entry Policy Council, examines continuity of care for people with mental illnesses upon their release from jail. Corrections directors spend large amounts of money to provide mental health services and medications in settings full of stressors that typically cause a person’s mental health to deteriorate. When a person is released, that investment may be wasted if he or she lacks access to the services needed to stay in recovery. The fact sheet discusses how services provided in jail or prison that continue upon reentry can facilitate recovery and reduce recidivism; how enrollment in Medicaid increases access to treatment for people who typically lack other means to pay for those services; and how people enrolled in Medicaid upon release experience fewer detentions and are more likely to remain in the community after one year.