PRA Work

Barbed Wire

Persons in jail are more likely to be homeless and not to have health insurance coverage upon jail admission and various studies document high prevalence of comorbid medical conditions. Yet upon release few have Medicaid coverage and/or ability to access timely behavioral health and health care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has the potential to… Read More

Diverse high school students in the hallway

You would expect this to be an easy question to answer. But that is not the case. Most of us have some idea of what happens when an adult is arrested for drunk driving, but it is much more complicated when the person in under 21. To start with, throughout the US, drinking and driving… Read More

Diverse high school students in the hallway

The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice, at Policy Research, Inc., and the Technical Assistance Collaborative are coordinating an initiative aimed at increasing the number of youth with co-occurring mental and substance use disorders diverted out of the juvenile justice system to appropriate community-based behavioral health services, and to reduce the inappropriate and… Read More

Flock of birds

As LaVerne mentioned in her Are You My Peer? blog post on 5/24, SAMHSA recently developed a working definition of recovery and established guiding principles that support recovery from mental and substance use disorders.  The following describes the components of this working definition through the lens of a person who is in long-term recovery from… Read More

Blades of Grass

Recognition of the high rates of trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder among justice-involved individuals is vital.1  It is estimated that 85 percent of women in correctional settings have an early experience of physical and or sexual abuse.2  Other reports estimate even higher lifetime experience of traumatic events and show little difference between genders on the… Read More


In May 2012, the National Institute of Justice issued a research solicitation for indigent defense.   They set aside $1,000,000 to fund up to four studies.  I am willing to bet that when this was developed, indigent defense for persons with mental illnesses was not an issue that was considered.   I know it was not for… Read More


Just when many states and communities were beginning to figure out how to improve access to health and behavioral health services for justice involved persons with mental illness, the health care landscape is changing. With the support of federal initiatives such as the Bureau of Justice Assistance’s (BJA) Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Grants, BJA’s… Read More

Man and woman talking

Late last year SAMHSA issued a new definition of recovery and support services.  This definition includes peers with lived experience in the areas of mental health and substance use.  One of the unintended consequences of adopting this definition was to reopen the debate about who is a peer and what constitutes peer support in both… Read More


In these days of ever diminishing resources for public sector behavioral health services for justice-involved persons, there is a strong temptation to oversell jail diversion programs.  Unrealistic expectations can set the stage for perceptions of poor performance.  This tendency is often fostered by bad research methodology and by overly zealous advocates who are misled by… Read More

silhouette of person in sunrise

The National Center for Mental Health and Juvenile Justice (NCMHJJ), operated by Policy Research Inc., selected 10 sites to participate in a new training initiative designed to create sustainable mental health training capacity within state and local juvenile justice systems.  This effort, sponsored by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and the John… Read More

Flock of birds

Recently there has been frenzy in the media over the idea of Homeless Hotspots– much of which many have been tweeted, blogged about, or posted to your Facebook page.  Whether this idea infuriates or intrigues you, most will agree one good outcome is the attention brought to the very real problem of homelessness in our… Read More