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The Second Chance Reentry Program: Substance Abuse & Mental Health Disorders

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With bipartisan support, the Second Chance Act (SCA) was signed into law on April 9, 2008, providing grants to help improve outcomes for people returning from incarceration. Since its inception, more than 700 awards have been made to help lower recidivism rates and improve community safety. Currently, there are eight programs funded under SCA, including the Second Chance Reentry Program for Adults with Co-Occuring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders, which will provide approximately $650,000 for up to eight awards for programs to help those with co-occuring conditions seek the treatment they need for successful reentry.

The Intersection Between the Criminal Justice System and Mental Health

A joint report by the Treatment Advocacy Center and the National Sheriffs' Association, The Treatment of Persons with Mental Illness in Prisons and Jails: A State Survey uncovered staggering statistics on the intersection between the criminal justice system and persons with mental health issues:

  • Jail populations have three to six times the number of persons with severe mental illness compared to the general population.
  • In 2012 there were ten times more people with severe mental illness in prisons and jails than state psychiatric hospitals.Tweet: In 2012 there were 10 X more people with severe mental illness in prisons/jails than state psychiatric hospitals.http://bit.ly/2mjf
  • Adults with mental illness remain in prison longer, are more likely to be abused, and commit suicide than the general prison population.
  • For persons with mental illness, reentry is a highly vulnerable time marked by an increased risk of drug use and twelve times the risk of death in the first two weeks after release.


The Second Chance Act Reentry Program for Adults with Co-Occuring Substance Abuse and Mental Health Disorders

This program seeks to reduce recidivism for adults 18 and over with co-occuring substance use and mental disorders, while enhancing general public safety. Projects should improve prison and jail based screening and assessment for substance use and mental disorders, as well as improve the reentry and community reintegration process. Assessing outcomes is a Department of Justice priority, particularly documenting how many program participants return to incarceration the first year after release.


Project Goals

  • Increase screening and risk assessment for substance use and mental disorders in jails and prisons.
  • Improve pre-and post-release treatment for adults with co-occuring substance use and mental disorders.
  • Develop reentry case plans that include supervision and program components based on the results of risks and needs assessment.


Eligible Project Activities

  •  Screening and assessing co-occuring substance abuse and mental disorders during incarceration
  • Providing treatment during the incarceration period
  • Pre and post-release case planning
  • Case Management
  • Connecting participants with recovery and life-skills support services
  • Specialized supervision caseloads


Applying to the Program

Eligible applicants are Native American tribes, state and local governments and consortia. Entities that lack the ability to track unique identifiers for participants, access and report recidivism data may not apply for funding through this program. Apply by March 14, 2017.


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