This brief discusses five key practices for the effective implementation of specialized probation caseloads for people with co-occurring disorders, such as mental illness and substance use.
These probationers, who usually require extensive treatment and services to address their needs, can benefit from specially trained probation staff working with behavioral health professionals to apply evidence-based practices. The key practices discussed in this brief for implementing specialized probation caseloads are to 1) build a solid program infrastructure; 2) define the target population and use results from criminogenic risk assessments; 3) develop specialized supervision case plans tailored to identified probationer needs; 4) connect people with co-occurring disorders to treatment and community resources; and 5) sustain the program by tracking outcomes and promoting successes. The brief notes that jurisdictions that have implemented specialized probation caseloads have experienced fewer arrests, shortened jail time after probation placement, improved mental health outcomes, and cost savings. Cost savings result from reduced recidivism and reduced use of emergency services and inpatient and residential services.