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From Recidivism to Recovery: The Case for Peer Support in Texas Correctional Facilities

"In this paper, we [the authors] explore the use of mental health peer support services as one way to support recovery, improve continuity of care, and reduce recidivism for inmates with mental illness during the re-entry process. We present a successful peer support re-entry program model, established in Pennsylvania, and offer preliminary suggestions for a Texas pilot project. We also offer policy recommendations that, if implemented, would broadly improve access to mental health services, ease re-entry transitions for inmates with mental illness, and enhance the viability of peer support re-entry programming" (p. 1). Sections of this report include: key concepts; peer support works-recovery is process of change, benefits of peer support, and peer support in Texas; Texas inmates with mental health needs-high cost of incarceration, community re-entry and the revolving door, and barriers to successful community re-entry; forensic peer support is a growing field-forensic peer specialists, peer support throughout the criminal justice system, peer support and criminal justice in Pennsylvania, hat Peerstar, LLC is, program model, client criteria, peer criteria, forensic pee specialist training curriculum, funding and cost, human stores and success, and tracking Peerstar's success from high risk to high reward; the Texas re-entry landscape for inmates with mental illness-continuity of care in Texas, mental health screening in local jails, program eligibility and service limitations, the Texas Correctional Office on Offenders with Medical or Mental Impairments (TCOOMMI), TCOOMMI re-entry programs for inmates with mental illness, and barriers to TCOOMMI service eligibility; leading the way by designing a Texas pilot program-six recommendations, concepts and considerations, and developing a forensic peer support curriculum; clearing the way by supporting inmate re-entry and forensic peer support through five policies; and next steps-engage, establish, and explore. Appendixes include: "The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections Peer Inmate Training Program"; and "Re-entry Programs and Policies for Inmates with Mental Illness in Texas".