A disproportionate number of individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) become involved in the criminal justice system and ultimately fall under some form of correctional control. Although some jurisdictions are making great strides with respect to how the criminal justice system deals with individuals with SMI, significant challenges and opportunities for improved outcomes remain. In light of the ongoing challenges the corrections sector faces in managing individuals with SMI, RAND researchers convened an expert workshop to better understand the challenges and identify the high-priority needs associated with how these individuals become justice-involved and how to achieve better outcomes before and after these individuals come under correctional control.
The majority of needs identified in this report are not new. Indeed, several issues closely mirror previous recommendations made by national advocacy groups and correctional health care organizations. This would seem to imply that the practitioners who work with this population essentially understand what is required to improve outcomes. Like many other issues, the gap appears to be a matter of prioritization and insufficient resources. That said, the needs identified in this report represent a strong and diverse agenda that can serve as a foundation for transformational change, given the social and political will to pursue this direction.