Individuals with mental and substance use disorders involved with the criminal justice system can face many obstacles accessing quality behavioral health services.
For individuals with behavioral health issues reentering the community after incarceration, those obstacles include a lack of health care, job skills, education, stable housing, and poor connection with community behavioral health providers. This may jeopardize their recovery and increase their probability of relapse and/or re-arrest.
Additionally, individuals leaving correctional facilities often have lengthy waiting periods before attaining benefits and receiving services in the community. Too often, many return to drug use, criminal behavior, or homelessness when these obstacles prevent access to needed services.
More than 40% of offenders return to state prison within 3 years of their release.
75% of men and 83% of women returning to state prison report using illegal drugs.
Criminal Justice Reentry Services and Supports
At federal, state and local levels, criminal justice reforms are changing the landscape of criminal justice policies and practices. In 2015, federal efforts have driven an expansion of programs and services focused on reentry services and supports for justice-involved individuals with mental and substance use disorders.
Reentry is a key issue in SAMHSA’s Trauma and Justice Strategic Initiative. This program addresses the behavioral health needs of people involved in - or at risk of becoming involved in - the criminal and juvenile justice systems. Additionally, it provides a comprehensive public health approach to addressing trauma and establishing a trauma-informed approach in health, behavioral health, criminal justice, human services, and related systems. Released persons with mental health and/or substance abuse problems should receive case management services and assistance with placement into community treatment programs.