Addressing the Needs of Mentally Ill Offenders: San Diego's Connections Program Evaluation

Sandy Keaton, San Diego Association of Governments
Cynthia Burke, San Diego Association of Governments

ABSTRACT
Since the late 1980s, inmates requiring mental health services have almost doubled, due in part to deinstitutionalization, as well as the passage of legislation that narrowly defines who is eligible for involuntary treatment. In response to this situation, the California Legislature passed Senate Bill 1485 that provided funding to counties to expand or establish a continuum of swift, certain, and graduated responses to reduce crime and criminal costs related to mentally ill offenders. San Diego County successfully competed for these grant funds and created the Connections Program to provide intensive case management to local probationers using the principles of Assertive Community Treatment (ACT), as opposed to the standard level of service. While this model of care has been extensively researched and found to be more effective than traditional case management for severely mentally ill individuals, it has never been studied with this population of jail inmates. As part of the project eligible clients are randomized to either Connections or the comparison group. SANDAG is responsible for conducting the process and impact evaluations of this project. This presentation will include preliminary findings including a profile of clients, a description of their needs, as well as outcome measures at program exit.

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Updated 05/20/2006