Previously published in the Ohio Judicial Conference Newsletter. Republished with permission.
LISW, Chief, Office of Forensic Service, Ohio Department of Mental Health.
LISW, Chief, Bureau of Mental Health Services, Office of Correctional Healthcare, Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
This is the eighteenth article from the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mentally Ill in the Courts about effectively dealing with offenders with mental illness. Many times judges see an offender on their docket who has recently been released from prison and who needs mental health treatment and/or medications to be able to function. This article highlights a joint program through the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction and the Ohio Department of Mental Health to address such an offender.
Although this is a prison release program, the Advisory Committee urges judges to consider this program's linkage function as it can also be easily adapted to those offenders released on community control. If the mental health needs of an offender are not met, the likelihood of failure of community control is great. The linkage program provides a way to connect the offender to community mental health services to ensure a successful transition back to society.
The Ohio Department of Mental Health (ODMH) in partnership with the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction (ODRC) developed the Community Linkage Program in 1995 to provide continuity of care for mentally ill offenders entering and leaving ODRC correctional facilities. An interagency agreement is in place and is renewed every two years. Prior to 1995, the Department of Mental Health provided mental health services to offenders in Ohio's prison system. As a result of the Dunn v. Voinovich consent decree (a class action challenging the treatment of offenders with mental illness) effective July 1, 1995, ODRC assumed the responsibility for the provision of these services. The Community Linkage Program is the last service on the continuum of mental health services in prison and bridges the gaps between prison care and local mental health services.
ODRC's mental health services in prison have received national recognition for the improvements made since 1995. In a prison system of 33...