Collaborations Between Criminal Justice and Mental Health Systems for Prisoner Reentry

William Penn University, Filadelfia, Pennsylvania, United States
Psychiatric Services (Impact Factor: 2.41). 07/2006; 57(6):875-8. DOI: 10.1176/
Source: PubMed


This study assessed reentry programs throughout the nation for people with mental illness who were leaving prisons or jails and developed a classification of service strategies based on practices that are emerging in the field in response to this need.
A national survey identified service strategies that assist people who are incarcerated in prisons or jail and have a mental illness reenter the community. Data were used to develop a typology of reentry service strategies.
Fifty-eight reentry programs were identified. Program descriptions were developed for 50. Findings supported the use of a 2x2 typology of initiatives, with one factor being whether the criminal justice or mental health system initiated the program and the other being the degree of collaboration between the two systems.
If the funding trend indicated by this survey continues, the criminal justice system will become a primary funder of treatment services for offenders with mental illness who are returning to the community. No one knows how this shift in funding will affect the provision of mental health services.

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    • "Despite their contribution to the linkage between diversion and reentry research, Sung and Belenko's study is limited by the restricted number of correlates examined . In addition to background and personal factors, recent advances in reentry scholarship have pointed to the need of exploring the role of healthcare needs (Wilson & Draine, 2006) and social environments (Bales & Mears, 2008; Mears, Wang, Hay, & Bales, 2008), which should also be taken into consideration in diversion research. "
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    ABSTRACT: Reentry usually refers to the transition from incarceration to community living. However, offenders diverted from prison to community-based restrictive sanctions also face the challenge of social reintegration. This study uses a postmatching case–control design to identify risk and protective factors for 1-year recidivism among completers of the Drug Treatment Alternative to Prison (DTAP) program in Brooklyn, New York. DTAP is a deferred-sentencing program targeting repeat drug-abusing felons arrested for drug sales. Participants are required to plead to a felony charge and spend 18 to 24 months in residential treatment. Forty-seven DTAP completers who had been re-arrested within a year of their dismissal are compared to 47 matched nonrecidivists. Results suggest that weak treatment engagement and social isolation considerably increase the risk of recidivism. Certain health conditions and/or medical needs also significantly correlate to reoffending. Implications for reentry policy making and research are discussed. Diversion and reentry are two buzzwords that have dominated the field of corrections in the past twenty years. Hailed as strategies that promised rationality and effectiveness in the rehabilitation of criminal offenders, these two processes are distinct policy
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    • "Although it can be effective as a community-based inter-agency service delivery program, intervention programs developed to specifically target the co-occurring issues of mental illness and criminalness are needed. In fact, a national survey of re-entry programs for OMI found very few efforts addressing mechanisms of change to reduce criminal recidivism, improve psychiatric status, or enhance quality of life (Wilson & Draine, 2006) such that development of effective interventions tailored to the specific issues of co-occurring mental illness and criminalness remains a significant deficit in the treatment of OMI. "
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    ABSTRACT: The purpose of this research synthesis was to examine treatment effects across studies of the service providers to offenders with mental illness. Meta-analytic techniques were applied to 26 empirical studies obtained from a review of 12,154 research documents. Outcomes of interest in this review included measures of both psychiatric and criminal functioning. Although meta-analytic results are based on a small sample of available studies, results suggest interventions with offenders with mental illness effectively reduced symptoms of distress, improving offender’s ability to cope with their problems, and resulted in improved behavioral markers including institutional adjustment and behavioral functioning. Furthermore, interventions specifically designed to meet the psychiatric and criminal justice needs of offenders with mental illness have shown to produce significant reductions in psychiatric and criminal recidivism. Finally, this review highlighted admission policies and treatment strategies (e.g., use of homework), which produced the most positive benefits. Results of this research synthesis are directly relevant for service providers in both criminal justice and mental health systems (e.g., psychiatric hospitals) as well as community settings by informing treatment strategies for the first time, which are based on empirical evidence. In addition, the implications of these results to policy makers tasked with the responsibility of designating services for this special needs population are highlighted. KeywordsOffender–Mental illness–Meta-analysis–Intervention–Treatment
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    • "In other words, mentally disordered offenders are not merely mentally ill individuals unable to survive without breaking the law, rather, these mentally ill individuals appear to think and process information as criminals. Although the criminal justice system has become the " defacto mental health system " (e.g., Holton, 2003; Wilson & Draine, 2006), a notion that offending among persons with serious mental illness is principally a function of their psychiatric symptomatology would be inaccurate. In fact, mentally disordered offenders in this study endorsed criminal thinking at a rate consistent with incarcerated offenders who are not mentally ill (see Walters, 1995; Walters & Geyer, 2005). "
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    ABSTRACT: To examine the prevalence of criminal thinking in mentally disordered offenders, incarcerated male (n = 265) and female (n = 149) offenders completed measures of psychiatric functioning and criminal thinking. Results indicated 92% of the participants were diagnosed with a serious mental illness, and mentally disordered offenders produced criminal thinking scores on the Psychological Inventory of Criminal Thinking Styles (PICTS) and Criminal Sentiments Scale-Modified (CSS-M) similar to that of non-mentally ill offenders. Collectively, results indicated the clinical presentation of mentally disordered offenders is similar to that of psychiatric patients and criminals. Implications are discussed with specific focus on the need for mental health professionals to treat co-occurring issues of mental illness and criminality in correctional mental health treatment programs.
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