The Issue

Many people in the criminal justice system have complex health needs that may include substance use disorders, mental illness, and other chronic diseases. When they return home without a health care transition plan in place, it can be difficult to find the services and medications they need.  A reentry plan that identifies health care providers who are expecting to provide services and and medications to the individual upon their release and sets initial appointments in the community can smooth this transition and reduce the risk of health problems and recidivism.

Current Initiatives

National
New York City and State
  • Co-chairing the Criminal Justice & Health Home Workgroup with the New York State Department of Health.

Policy Recommendations

  • Coordinated care transitions: Justice systems should promote continuity of care for the people transitioning from their custody or supervision. Courts and corrections should work with other government agencies and community-based treatment providers to plan to meet the health needs of people in transition without unnecessarily disrupting care they are receiving or delaying care they need.
  • Improved reentry planning: Prisons and jails should provide every person leaving their custody with a reentry plan that includes initial appointments and contact information for substance use and mental health treatment services they need to receive in the community to stay healthy. Corrections personnel should work with community-based providers to arrange point-to-point transportation from the facility to the location of appointments and services and follow-up with service providers to ensure the person has attended.
  • Greater use of Health Homes: States should also utilize the Medicaid health home option, whose focus on ensuring that individuals with complex, varied health needs receive care and supports in a coordinated way is well designed to meet the health needs of formerly incarcerated people and others involved in the criminal justice system.

Learn More

To learn more about this issue, visit our Criminal Justice and Health Resources.

To learn more about LAC’s impact, see our Accomplishments.

 

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