The past three decades have seen dramatic increases of incarcerated individuals in the United States, specifically those being penalized for drug-related offenses. Of the more than 6.9 million adults under some form of criminal supervision in 2014, an estimated 53% of State and 45% of Federal prisoners meet the criteria for diagnosis of drug dependence; however, between 80-85% of prisoners who meet the criteria for drug dependence do not receive treatment.

Research has shown the beneficial effects of therapeutic treatment for substance use disorders in the criminal justice system. Medication-assisted treatment has also proven to be effective. Mental Health Courts are another strategy for addressing behavioral health needs. While some states and county employ these methods to reduce the likelihood of reincarceration, most others miss opportunities to improve public health and safety.

In this project, the BHWRC engaged with organizations and agencies involved in the intersection of corrections and mental health. The study proposed to do the following:

  1. Identify counties and states with behavioral health workforce development programs for adult and juvenile correctional facilities
  2. Determine whether and how the workforce accommodates behavioral health service delivery to individuals recently released from incarceration who may be transitioning to the Medicaid-covered population

These findings will inform the Center’s understanding of best practices in this context and our policy proposals.