State Government Group Issues Guide On Offenders With Mental, Substance Abuse Ills


The Council of State Governments Justice Center has issued a guide for policymakers and service providers on how to deal with adults with “behavioral health needs” under correctional supervision. “There are large numbers of individuals with mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders cycling through our prisons and jails,” said director Denise O'Donnell of the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, one funder of the project. “This report draws on the science of recidivism-reduction and what works to address mental health and substance use disorders to promote the right people getting the right integrated interventions at the right times.”

The center said its new publication “outlines the principles and practices of the corrections and behavioral health systems and a structure for state and local agencies to begin building truly collaborative responses. It dispels myths about the link between mental illness and violence, underscores that recovery and rehabilitation are possible, and calls for the reallocation of resources where they will be most efficient and effective.” The center’s chair, Kansas State Rep. Pat Colloton, said, “The reality of austere budgets, particularly for mental health and substance abuse services, makes it imperative that we leverage each system's investments to produce better public health and safety outcomes.”

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