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Essex Mental Health Diversion Program

Award Information

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

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

Essex County Sheriff’s Department (ECSD) in collaboration with Volunteers of America Massachusetts (VOAMASS) proposes to expand the Essex Mental Health Diversion Program (EMHDP) under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHC) Category 3: Implementation and Expansion Competition (O-BJA-2023-171522). Lead applicant ECSD and partner VOAMASS aims to strategically build upon the inaugural JMHCP (EMHDP) and expand previous funding (FY19) to serve 250 eligible pre-trial inmates waiting for Essex County Corrections court appearances in diversionary programming and services to prepare for community transition/reentry services.

Wide research shows that integrating treatment during incarceration has been shown to reduce recidivism and offer a cost-effective means to decrease substance use among inmates with MH/CODs and improve associated outcomes for public health and safety. In 2022, ECSD managed a pre-trial inmate population of 6,626 many of whom have MH/CODs  and waited between 30 to 90 days for court appearances. This timeframe presents a valuable opportunity to utilize a 40-bed unit to engage inmates over 24 months with criminogenic assessments, service planning, and participation in therapeutic activities.

The proposed expansion will implement program activities including a comprehensive risk-needs-responsibility (R-N-R) and whole-person, integrated care approach using evidence-based practices (EBP) to conduct mental health screening to identify eligible inmates for Correction Opportunities for Personal Enrichment-Therapeutic Community (COPE-TC) ; develop  individual service plans (ISPs) with whole-person, integrated care pathway goals leading to transition/reentry; develop/implement COPE-TC clinical curriculum with group activities, predictable daily schedule, expectations, and MH/COD interventions; (3) train corrections staff, program staff, and Task Force partners on EB mental health, recidivism assessment, and crisis intervention planning; (4) secure commitment agreements with Mental Health Courts and MH/COD providers; (5) customize electronic health record system; (6) leverage Task Force advocacy to implement third-party billing and create a long-term sustainability plan; and (7) develop/conduct a performance measurement plan.

Expected outcomes include an implemented R-N-R approach with whole-person, integrated care pathways for pretrial inmates; initiated MH/COD recovery for pretrial inmates through social learning. mutual self-help in COPE-TC and linkage with community service providers for uninterrupted care at post-release; 250 pre-trial inmates with ISPs outlining whole-person, integrated care, and discharge planning for seamless post-release care coordination;  increased capacity of electronic health records to collate and produce multi-faceted data reports of program activities; effective performance measurement plan and written results; and developed plan for Medicare billing and sustainability action plans for securing new revenue streams.

Date Created: September 26, 2023