Thursday, March 10, 2010
One of every 15 state general fund discretionary dollars goes towards corrections – and corrections spending is the second-fastest growing area of state budgets (right behind Medicaid), according to the Pew Center on the States. And, of the incarcerated population, 65% meet medical criteria for substance abuse or addiction (see Only 11% of U.S. Substance-Involved Inmates Received Treatment in Prison or Jail ) and 16% have a serious mental illness (see More Mentally Ill Persons Are in Jails and Prisons Than Hospitals: A Survey of the States ).
To address this growing budget issue, eleven states are planning to adopt or expand re-entry initiatives to reduce re-incarceration, and 20 states plan to expand release opportunities through good behavior credits or expanded parole eligibility (see States Reducing Corrections Spending Slightly in 2011, With Focus on Early Release & Re-entry Initiatives for additional information). This focus on reintegrating these citizens within the social fabric will represent a big change in our justice system philosophy – and expanded opportunities for service provider organizations.
Yet I have frequently seen executive teams of provider organizations decline community reentry opportunities simply because they don’t want to become involved with the criminal justice system. In particular, there seems to be a persistent negative stigma associated with this population of “mentally ill offenders” that many management teams are simply not willing to look past. It is this attitude that causes many to miss out on the significant revenue opportunity in serving this high-needs population.
I like to remind people that before these individuals became “mentally ill offenders,” they were most likely receiving treatment in hospitals and day treatment programs and outpatient clinics – and referred to only as “patents” or “consumers.”
Has your organization developed any programs that address this interface between behavioral health disorders and the corrections system? I would love to learn more about your experiences – e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard Louis III
Senior Associate, OPEN MINDS &
Monterey Park Police Department, Los Angeles County
To read more about opportunities for provider organizations in corrections, see: Budget Crunch & Growing Corrections Budgets Create New Opportunities all members
This resource is free for the next sixty days to all registered OPEN MINDS Circle members.