The Forensic Case Management Program offers multiple services to the inmates of the jail including Assessment & Evaluation Services, Psycho-Educational Group Programming, as well as Crisis Intervention Services. There is a need to provide a range of behavioral health services to the incarcerated individuals housed in the Mercer County Prison. Individuals with mental illness and substance abuse issues are significantly over-represented in the criminal justice system. This population has special needs that require unique services while incarcerated and during the re-entry process. Transition planning is a major issue for this population as the national average of recidivism for individuals with behavioral health issues released from state prisons is 61% within three years. Additionally, released inmates with substance abuse problems are at high risk for relapse to their addiction, which in turn increases the likelihood of criminal activity and parole/probation violations. High rates of recidivism results in tremendous costs in terms of public safety and in public tax dollars spent to arrest, prosecute and re-incarcerate offenders. Effective linkages to treatment programs are vital to the successful re-entry of prisoners.
Individuals who are incarcerated have historically been high users of intensive drug and alcohol residential programs due the significance of substance use which often precipitates an incarceration. These services are costly and often times only offer brief periods of sobriety for the targeted population. Mercer County Behavioral Health Commission has undertaken the task of identifying, screening, assessing, and evaluating those inmates who would benefit from participating in a variety of services designed to target substance abuse, and mental health issues