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Smart Probation: Mental Health Specialists for Community Supervision

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Awardee County
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2021, $713,738)

Project Abstract

Name of lead applicant: Missouri Department of Corrections (MDOC)

Amount Requested: $713,738

OJP Policy Priority Areas: This program will address a shortage of mental health resources in rural counties, high and persistent-poverty counties, and qualified opportunity zones

Service Area: MDOC Division of Probation and Parole (P&P) Eastern, Southeast, and Southwest regions

Project Summary:     

In 2018, MDOC began the Justice Reinvestment Initiative Treatment Pilot (JRITP), now known as Improving Community Treatment Success (ICTS). This program aims to improve outcomes for behavioral health consumers under P&P supervision by ensuring that significant criminogenic needs are addressed in the community. As of 2021, this program has been expanded to include 12 counties, all of which have designated specialists for housing, employment, and peer support.

While initial results from this program are promising, ICTS does not yet include dedicated professionals who can address the mental health needs of the population. A lack of services for mentally ill individuals in rural and/or economically disadvantaged areas has led to greater reliance upon P&P officers to address mental health concerns. Traditionally-trained P&P officers generally lack the knowledge to address the challenges associated with mentally ill offenders, and data suggests that this lack of knowledge may lead to increased probation revocations and re-incarcerations.

To address this knowledge gap, MDOC will partner with MDMH to implement a new program based on the Community Mental Health Liaison (CMHL) program previously established by MDMH within Missouri. MDOC will use grant funds to enter a contract that will fund at least three qualified mental health specialists who will work alongside existing MDOC staff. In the initial pilot program funded by this grant, these “Justice and Mental Health Specialists” will serve in P&P’s Eastern, Southwest, and Southeast regions, which have a significant need for mental health services for justice-involved individuals.

Specific job duties for the Specialists will include acting as a liaison/resource for P&P officers, providing oversight of mental health programming for offenders under community supervision, aiding with treatment and referral issues, and facilitating continuity of care for offenders releasing from MDOC institutions.

As the independent evaluator, MUSSW will track efficiency and outcome measures through the 30-month project implementation period. Data gained from this evaluation will help MDOC make decisions about how to best incorporate the Specialists into the ICTS program and expand the program statewide.

Date Created: December 3, 2021