Benchmarking

Tennessee Department of Correction is not the only correctional system seeking to reduce the rate of recidivism for the mentally diagnosed offender. Texas, Ohio, Oklahoma, and California recognized closing mental health hospitals, created revolving doors for mentally diagnosed offenders in correctional facilities. The other states determined the revolving doors or recidivism occurred because treatment provided prior to release, discontinued the day of release or services available only for offenders granted parole.
During the National Conference on Correctional Health Care (NCCHC), October 2013, the California Department of Correction explained provisions established for ex-offenders on parole but not for offenders with expired sentences. However, Harris County Juvenile Detention Center (JDC), in Houston, Texas, expressed a different concern. The JDC explained the unnerving details the center experienced during intake – new admissions – of recidivating offenders. During the NCCHC conference, Harris County JDC received awards for mental health and substance abuse services provided prior to release. However, the JDC determined the recidivating offenders’ heath care and treatment services discontinued while in the community. The services continued after the offender returned to the detention center. Therefore, in California DOC and Harris County JDC the offenders experience a gap in continuum of care services. In essence, both agencies expressed the need to develop re-entry services for expiring or paroling offenders prior to his or her release to reduce rate of recidivism for mentally diagnosed offenders.
Other states, such as Ohio Department of Correction, also recognized health care and treatment services for offenders discontinued day of release. As a result, the department developed re-entry polices – procedures and guidelines – for mental health offenders, prior to release. However, In May 2012, the Director of Behavioral Health suggested the policies required additional revision before fully implementing the procedures. When TDOC requested to review Ohio’s re-entry policy, the director declined until the completed revisions, six months later. The mantra of the revised policy with implementation is Re-entry Means “Going Home to Stay.”
Oklahoma Department of Correction also developed re-entry policies and programs to reduce incarceration of the mental health population. The Oklahoma’s goal is to provide more opportunities for ex-offenders to remain in the community. Therefore, the department re-entry programs addressed the difficult challenges the offenders faced while living in the communities. In addition to the re-entry policies, Ohio and Oklahoma Department of Corrections partnered with community providers, respectively, creating a continuum of care, after release. In both states, the partnership generated cross-sector collaboration between the department of correction and the community mental health providers. Based on the practices from the other state agencies such as Ohio, Oklahoma, etc., Tennessee Department of Correction is developing cross-sector collaboration with other state and community agencies within the state of Tennessee Department of Correction.

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