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Coordinating Community Services for Mentally Ill Offenders: Maryland's Community Criminal Justice Treatment Program

NCJ Number
C Conly
Date Published
April 1999
19 pages
Recognizing the number of mentally ill individuals in the criminal justice system has grown dramatically over the past 30 years, Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene established the Maryland Community Criminal Justice Treatment Program (MCCJTP), a multiagency collaborative that provides shelter and treatment services to mentally ill offenders in their communities.
The MCCJTP also targets individuals on probation. The program operates in 18 of Maryland's 24 local jurisdictions and features local advisory boards composed of local and State decision makers; case management services that include crisis intervention, screening, counseling, discharge planning, and community follow-up; services for mentally ill offenders who are homeless or have co-occurring substance use disorders; routine training for criminal justice and treatment professionals; and post-booking diversion for qualifying mentally ill defendants. The MCCJTP model features strong collaboration between State and local providers, a commitment to offering transitional case management services, the provision of long-term housing support to mentally ill offenders, and a focus on co-occurring substance use disorders. Criminal justice and treatment professionals credit the program with improving the identification and treatment of jailed mentally ill individuals, increasing communication between mental health and corrections professionals, improving the coordination of in-jail and community-based services for mentally ill offenders, and reducing disruptions in local jails. Case managers and clients report the program's comprehensive services have improved the quality of life for many clients. The results of an independent evaluation of MCCJTP service delivery mechanisms and client outcomes, when completed, will help determine whether providing coordinated, community-based services to mentally ill offenders can significantly reduce recidivism, increase residential stability, reduce psychiatric hospitalization, and increase voluntary participation in substance abuse treatment. 23 notes, 1 table, and 7 photographs