Help communities build comprehensive health care systems for people in the justice system

Updated June 15, 2021

Many people reentering their communities after incarceration face significant behavioral and mental health challenges, yet too often are not connected to needed treatment and health care services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated persistent and systemic problems of inequitable access to behavioral health care and services, especially for communities of color. Significant fundingmore than $59 billionthrough the American Rescue Plan (ARP) can help increase access to health care treatment and services for people in the justice system. This critical investment in community-based health supports provides an opportunity to build and enhance services to break the cycle of incarceration and improve long-term health and well–being.

Funding Breakdown

Name Total Amount Description Administering Agencies Eligible Entities Distribution Mechanisms


End Date
Funding for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, and mitigation activities $47.8 billion Conduct activities to detect, diagnose, trace, and monitor COVID-19 infections and related strategies to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.


Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) State, local, and territorial public health departments Grants awarded through existing cooperative agreements and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) vehicles, including the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Cooperative Agreement


Available until expended
Funding for Community Health Centers and Community Care



$7.6 billion Expand COVID-19 testing and treatment, deliver preventive and primary health care services, and increase operational capacity for community health centers. HHS Community health centers Grants and contracts Available until expended
Community mental health services block grant $1.5 billion Expand comprehensive community mental health services for adults and children with serious mental illness or emotional disturbances, such as screenings, outpatient services, emergency mental health treatment, and day treatment programs. HHS State and nonprofit mental and behavioral health agencies Block grant. Award amounts by state/ territory available via the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA)


September 30, 2025
Substance abuse prevention and treatment block grant



$1.5 billion Plan and implement programs and activities to prevent and treat substance use disorders. HHS States, local governments, and nonprofit agencies Block grant. Award amounts by state/territory available via SAMHSA.


September 30, 2025
Funding for mental health and substance use disorder training for health care professionals and public safety officers $80 million Plan, develop and operate training activities to reduce and address suicide, burnout, mental health conditions, and substance use disorders among health care professionals


HHS Health professions schools, academic health centers, state or local governments, Native American tribes, and tribal organizations, or other appropriate public or private nonprofit entities Grants or contracts Available until expended
Funding for community-based funding for local substance use disorder services


$30 million Support community-based overdose prevention programs, syringe services, and other harm reduction services. HHS State, local, tribal, and territorial governments as well as tribal organizations; nonprofit community-based organizations; and health organizations. Grants Available until expended
Funding for community-based funding for local behavioral health needs $50 million Provide mental and behavioral health training, increase telehealth services, and expand mental and behavioral health preventive and crisis intervention services. HHS State and local governments, community nonprofits, and health organizations Grants Available until expended
Funding for expansion grants for certified community behavioral health clinics


$420 million Expand access to crisis response services through Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics (CCBHCs) HHS Community organizations that meet the criteria to be CCBHCs Grants Available until expended
Mandatory coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and administration and treatment under Medicaid 100% federal match (FMAP)





Require COVID-19 vaccines and treatment to be provided at no cost to individuals with Medicaid insurance and with a 100% federal matching rate. States can also provide coverage to uninsured individuals. HHS State Medicaid agency One year after the end of the public health emergency
Temporary increase in FMAP for medical assistance under state Medicaid plans which begin to expend amounts for certain mandatory individuals


90% federal match (FMAP) for newly covered and 5% for all other Medicaid populations for 2 years Incentivize states to increase Medicaid coverage. HHS State Medicaid agency, executive branch, or legislature States need to apply and change their state plans. 2 years
Extension of 100 percent federal medical assistance percentage to urban Indian health organizations and Native Hawaiian health care systems 100% federal match Increase funding for “urban Indian health organizations and native Hawaiian health care systems.” HHS Indian health organizations and Native Hawaiian health centers Within two years
Additional support for Medicaid home and community-based services during the COVID-19 emergency


Increase FMAP by 10% Expand access to programs where individuals can access health and human service care in their homes and communities instead of treatment facilities. HHS State Medicaid agency Federal match March 21, 2022
Funding for Education and Awareness Campaign Encouraging Healthy Work Conditions and Use of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder Services by Health Care Professionals


$20 million Create a national education and awareness campaign for health care professionals and first responders centered on identification, prevention, and treatment of mental health and substance use conditions Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Available until expended

The ARP provides for an additional $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for communities to address local fiscal priorities in response to the pandemic. Learn more about how to use these funds to advance safety and justice goals in our guide. State, local and tribal governments can request recovery funds directly through the Treasury’s website.

Key Takeaways

1. Establish comprehensive community-based health care systems: ARP funding can be used to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to invest in broader public health supports, such as community health centers, and mental health and substance use treatment. Given the high rates of mental health and substance use conditions among people in the justice system, investments in comprehensive health care systemsincluding behavioral health services, harm reduction supports, and physical health services—help meet the needs of this population and reduce duplication of services. 


2. Support COVID-19 mitigation for people in the justice system: Jails and prisons have been the sites of some of the largest COVID-19 clusters in the country, placing people who are incarcerated and correctional staff at high risk of exposure to COVID-19. Further, many people who have a history of, or are at risk of, criminal justice contact are at a high risk of contracting COVID-19 and/or are more likely to have serious complications from the virus due to underlying health conditions. ARP funding can be used to support COVID-19 testing, tracing, and mitigation strategies specifically focused on this population to limit exposure and minimize the spread of the virus in communities.

3. Provide behavioral health supports for public safety officers and first responders: Public safety officers and first responders often face stressful work-related situations on a regular basis and, consequently, often experience physical and mental health challenges. ARP resources can be used to address underlying behavioral health needs of public safety officers and first responders—particularly in remote communities—to ensure they receive appropriate treatment and services and can recognize risk factors among the people they encounter.   

Other Resources

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About the Authors

Image for:
Alex Blandford
Program Director, Behavioral Health
Alex Blandford oversees and executes the CSG Justice Center's health policy portfolio and works to improve access to health care for people in the criminal justice system through federal, state, and local policy. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center,
Alex was a project coordinator for the Institute for Evaluation Science in Community Health, which is housed in the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh. As a project coordinator, she oversaw a variety of research projects, including one examining the Pittsburgh region’s emergency response to mental health crises, and another evaluating the region’s Crisis Intervention Team training for police officers. She earned her BS in psychology and BA in French from the Pennsylvania State University and her MPH at the Graduate School of Public Health at the University of Pittsburgh.
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  • Image for:
    Ayesha Delany-Brumsey
    Director, Behavioral Health
    Dr. Ayesha Delany-Brumsey oversees the Behavioral Health Division and its various portfolios, which focus on how parts of the criminal justice system intersect with the mental health, substance addiction, and homelessness systems, among others. Before joining the organization, Ayesha was
    most recently the director of Behavioral Health Research and Programming at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice in New York City. Prior to that, she was the director of the Substance Use and Mental Health program at the Vera Institute. She received her PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
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