Vera Institute of Justice. Substance Use and Mental Health Program (New York NY)
This report empirically shows the benefits that can happen if a state reforms its excessively punitive drug control laws. "In 2009, the latest in a series of reforms essentially dismantled New York State’s Rockefeller Drug Laws, eliminating mandatory minimum sentences for people convicted of a range of felony drug charges and increasing eligibility for diversion to treatment … [The] drug law reform, as it functioned in the city soon after the laws were passed, led to a 35 percent rise in the rate of diversion of eligible defendants to treatment. Although the use of diversion varied significantly among the city’s five boroughs, it was associated with reduced recidivism rates, and cut racial disparities in half." Sections of this report include: introduction; expanding access to treatment; differences in diversion within the city; beyond diversion—broader consequences of drug law reform; narrowing racial differences; improving public safety; the cost of drug law reform; and conclusion and recommendations.
<p>“Youth who run away from home, routinely skip school, and engage in other risky behaviors [status offenses] that are prohibited precisely because of their young age are acting out in ways that should concern the adults in their lives. They need appropriate attention—but not from the juvenile justice system” (p. 1). Sections of this report discuss: the rise and fall of status offense cases handled in court (1995-2010); common status offenses—truancy, liquor law violations, runaway, ungovernability, and curfew violations; why courts are poorly suited to deal with status offense cases; what the characteristics are of an effective community-based approach for assisting youngsters charged with status offenses; whether community-bases responses work—yes if done well with examples being in Florida, New York State, Calcasieu Parish (Louisiana), Rapides Parish (LA), and Clark County (Washington State).</p>
“The significant challenges faced by those leaving jail and the high price of continued offending underscore the importance of capitalizing on jail contact to link individuals with services both while in the jail and as they return to the community. However, providing supportive interventions in jail settings is extremely challenging. While a number of innovative practices exist, there is much progress to be made in the design of services that can support people as they leave jail and return home” (p. 5). The effectiveness of the Los Angeles County Jail to provide reentry services to individuals being released is evaluated. Other jails can find valuable suggestions for improving their own jail reentry services by reading this report. Sections of the technical report include: executive summary; introduction; profiles of interviewees in jail custody; reentry service delivery and engagement including the Community Transition Unit (CTU); operations and efficiency; coordination between the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) and other agencies and organizations; and conclusion. Some of the 11 recommendations to maximize the efficiency of reentry services provided by the jail are: expand awareness of the CTU to potential clients; integrate risks and needs assessments into reentry services; individualize reentry service plans; and strengthen the ties between the jail and community-based providers. You can download the technical report, summary report, and/or fact sheet at this website.