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Managing Mentally Ill Offenders in the Community: Milwaukee's Community Support Program

NCJ Number
D C McDonald; M Teitelbaum
Date Published
11 pages
This paper describes the Milwaukee program designed to keep chronically mentally ill persons out of local jails and hospitals while helping them to live independently.
The Community Support Program, operated by a private nonprofit agency, provides an alternative to incarceration for chronically mentally ill persons through a mix of coercion, incentives, housing assistance, money management, and therapeutic support services. Program operations are conducted out of a small clinic located in a predominantly residential neighborhood. Clinic staff are readily available to all clients and offer a broad range of services. Three full-time nurses provide clinical support to clients who, in addition to psychological distress, often need primary health care evaluation and referral to medical services. A part-time psychiatrist diagnoses clients and prescribes psychotropic medications. The pharmacy staff dispenses all medications and manages the recordkeeping. Four full-time case managers have a caseload of 60 clients each. Several financial service staff members help clients obtain government benefits and manage their money. Daily allowances are dispensed by a cashier. Two staff persons work to obtain housing for clients and help them manage ongoing relationships with their landlords. A small management and administrative staff directs overall operations. The program can serve approximately 250 clients at any one time. This paper discusses entry into the program, client characteristics, costs, avoidance of cash flow problems, gaining community acceptance for the program, and program replication in other areas of the country. 2 exhibits