Issue Brief

Coordinating Access to Services for Justice-Involved Populations

August 11, 2016 | Christian Heiss, MPH, Stephen A. Somers, PhD, and Mark Larson, Center for Health Care Strategies

State policymakers continue to look for ways to improve responses for people with behavioral health and substance abuse conditions. The challenges to providing supports for individuals with these conditions who interact with the criminal justice system are particularly acute. With the implementation of Medicaid expansion in January 2014, a number of jurisdictions have embarked on concerted efforts to connect the justice-involved population with health insurance coverage through Medicaid. However insurance coverage cannot by itself improve the health of this population: once they have coverage, the justice-involved need to get connected to treatments that work.

This issue brief, commissioned by the Reforming States Group and written by the Center for Health Care Strategies, examines how innovative players at the intersection of health and corrections are providing various interventions—including peer supports, case management, and integrated mental health, substance abuse, and social supports—to ensure access to physical and behavioral health services as justice-involved individuals transition into their communities. It provides examples from promising programs around the country, demonstrating practical ways in which states and local jurisdictions have improved health outcomes and reduced recidivism for the justice-involved.