PRA Work

On June 27-28, 2012 the kick-off meeting for Improving Diversion Policies and Programs for Justice-Involved Youth with Co-Occurring Mental Health and Substance Abuse Disorders was held in Bethesda, Maryland. More than 100 were in attendance for this event, including teams representing the eight states participating in this initiative: Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, New York,… Read More

One of the biggest challenges in jail diversion work is engaging misdemeanants, especially repetitive ones.  In addition to all the behavioral health issues they may have, there often is little incentive to opt into diversion programs when they are facing only time served or very short jail sentences.  It is often an ethical dilemma for their legal… Read More

Today, our nation’s correctional facilities face an unprecedented challenge: Meeting the needs of a drastically increasing number of older inmates.  The percentage of prisoners age 65 and older has grown by 67% percent in the past four years (Jacob & Valeria Langeloth Foundation, John Jay College, & Policy Research Associates, 2012).  According to a recent… Read More

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

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

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

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

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

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