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Mental Health Support within WADOC

Award Information

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

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $550,000)

The population of incarcerated women has increased more than 475% in the last 40 years (Sentencing Project, 2022). This increased visibility has re-affirmed the gender specific pathway of incarcerated women (trauma, substance use, criminal behaviors) and brought heightened awareness for the need for gender specific treatment to reduce recidivism (National Institute of Corrections, 2005). Ensuring women receive trauma treatment and addiction treatment while incarcerated is a critical intervention point in preventing recidivism and mortality and in promoting safter communities.

    In Washington State Department of Corrections (WA DOC), a designated Health Provider Shortage Area (HPSA), only 20% of women in any given year have been able to access evidence-based trauma therapy, and only 24% of women have been able to access residential treatment for substance abuse. This is due to both provider shortage and facility constraints. This grant funding ($550,000) is needed to reduce barriers to care in WA DOC through reducing provider shortage and increasing access to care.

    Using increased staffing, verified assessments, and evidence-based tools and interventions, the grant will address the Program-specific Priority Area by providing treatment access to two hundred women in the criminal justice system diagnosed with a Mental Health Disorder (MHD). Co-occurring evidence-based trauma and substance abuse treatments will be provided to participants for six months. Grant funds will be used to hire a Psychologist and a Reentry Navigator to provide reentry services to help reentrants with the transition into community.

    Outcomes in and out of custody will be evaluated. In custody, individuals receiving evidence-based trauma therapy have showed a reduction in facility infractions by 58% (WCCW MH Metrics, 2022). This will continue to be assessed. Helping women recover while in custody will allow women to access other programs more effectively, such as additional trauma programming, education, and vocational programs, and to re-engage with critical community tasks upon release.

    Out of custody, research on the efficacy of evidence-based therapy and substance use disorder interventions have been documented to reduce recidivism by 50-60% (SAMSHA PEP19-MATBRIEFCJS). Recovery from trauma and substance use disorders benefits incarcerated women, the community, and community stakeholders in the criminal justice program. Outcomes of recidivism, substance use related deaths, change in MHD symptoms, and impact on community mental health referrals (aiming to decrease all outcomes), will be measured through IRB approved research.

    WA DOC has never received grant funding from JMHCP before.

Date Created: September 26, 2023