Mississippi received a $647,461 federal grant aimed at reducing recidivism by addressing untreated co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders in offenders under community supervision.
The Departments of Corrections and Mental Health will partner up to administer the program. The Second Chance Act Reentry Program for Adults with Co-Occurring Substance Use and Mental Disorders will start on Oct. 1 and run for three years.
“Our state is in dire need of programs that can offer ex-offenders a full continuum of integrated care that will improve their functioning and outcomes when they return to their communities,” MDOC Commissioner Marshall Fisher said in a press release. “Therefore, when the Department of Mental Health approached me about supporting its efforts to get this grant, I didn’t hesitate.”
There are 3,194 inmates receiving ongoing mental health treatment and about 15,000 have self-reported abusing alcohol and drugs, a press release from both departments said.
“We believe individuals with co-occurring mental illness and substance use disorders represent a group of people who have been under-identified and may have had difficulties accessing the services they need,” DMH Executive Director Diana Mikula said in a press release. “The Mississippi Second Chance Act Reentry Program will work to identify these needs and get people the services that can help them begin their recovery process.”
The grant allows the two departments to improve identification of inmates with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders, provide training to staff, integrate individualized treatment plans and track participant outcomes.
The departments will use mental health assessments to determine individuals’ needs and collaborate to develop re-entry plans, including pre- and post-release treatment. Those treatment services will include cognitive-behavioral therapy, crisis intervention, and recovery support services such as housing, vocational, and educational services.
The program will start focusing on non-violent offenders returning to Hinds County. Current plans are to serve 90 individuals during the three-year pilot program in order to develop a program model that can be replicated statewide with the receipt of additional federal grant funding, the press release says. The program will require people under community supervision to participate in a minimum number of intensive outpatient therapeutic hours, based on their individual recidivism risk level.
“Through our collaboration with the Department of Corrections, we know there are a number of eligible individuals right here in Hinds County,” Mikula said in the press release. “We will be collaborating and using existing resources in the state mental health system to get these Mississippians the treatment and support services they need. I know that with all of us working together, we can create a better tomorrow for the people of our state.”