Mental Health


Reentry Essentials: Addressing Mental Health Needs among People in the Criminal Justice System

May 2, 2018

A disproportionate number of people in the nation’s criminal justice system face mental health issues: a Bureau of Justice Statistics report found, for example, that people in U.S. prisons and jails are three to five times more likely to experience serious psychological distress than the general adult population.

From Jailhouse to Coffeehouse, SCA-Funded Program Supports People in Omaha During and After Incarceration

“I’ve been in and out of jail for the last 20 years, and this [group] taught me it was time to grow up and stop doing the things I was doing,” Rich said. “Having people who care about how you’re doing and who can lift your spirits is important.”

A Second Chance at Recovery for Women in Wilmington, North Carolina

At Leading Into New Communities’ (LINC) residential reentry center in Wilmington, North Carolina, every part of resident Kim Hogan’s day plays a role in her transition from prison to a life in the community.

For the Formerly Incarcerated, Peer Mentoring Can Offer Chance to ‘Give Back’

In Wayne County, Detroit Central City uses peer supports in their work with low-income individuals who have serious mental and behavioral health needs. As a FY2014 Second Chance Act Mentoring grantee, the organization credits its first peer-support project to statewide interest in using peer supports as a component of substance use treatment and mental health care.

NRRC Projects

Second Chance Act Reentry Program for Adults with Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Disorders

This grant program provides funding for state and local government agencies and federally recognized tribal communities to implement or expand treatment programs for adults who have co-occurring substance use and mental disorders and are returning to their communities from incarceration. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) administers the awards.

Key Resources

Critical Connections: Getting People Leaving Prison and Jail the Mental Health Care and Substance Use Treatment They Need—What Policymakers Need to Know about Health Care Coverage

This discussion paper identifies key questions state and local leaders should ask as part of their efforts to help people leaving prison and jail with mental health needs get community-based treatment.

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What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse Focus Area: Mental and Physical Health

This section of the What Works in Reentry Clearinghouse provides an overview and examination of key evaluative research related to mental and physical health programming for incarcerated populations and those recently released from prison. It includes the results and conclusions of health research that met the criteria for methodological rigor. These studies provide a basis for comparing and discussing effective strategies currently practiced in the reentry field for both overcoming barriers to access to health care and treating mental and physical health problems.

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Adults with Behavioral Health Needs under Correctional Supervision: A Shared Framework for Reducing Recidivism and Promoting Recovery

This report is for policymakers, administrators, and service providers committed to improving outcomes for the large number of adults with mental health and substance use disorders that cycle through the criminal justice system. It introduces an evidence-based framework for prioritizing scarce resources based on assessments of individuals’ risk of committing a future crime and their treatment and support needs.

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Report of the Federal Interagency Reentry Council: Health Care, Treatment, and Benefits

The Federal Interagency Reentry Council (The Council) has been working since 2011 to reduce recidivism and improve outcomes related to employment, education, housing, health, and child welfare for people involved with the criminal justice system. This report summarizes The Council’s accomplishments related to health care, treatment, and benefits.

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Process Measures at the Interface Between Justice and Behavioral Health Systems: Advancing Practice and Outcomes

Between 2011 and 2013, the CSG Justice Center worked with NIATx—a learning collaborative that is part of the Center for Health Enhancement Systems Studies (CHESS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison—to bring its process improvement model to the correctional system. Based on lessons learned from that experience, it became clear that there was a gap when it came to tracking progress in substance use disorder treatment across the criminal justice and behavioral health systems. In response, the CSG Justice Center developed guiding principles and process measures that can help guide cross-systems delivery of service.

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