This project was funded in part by the Hamilton County Probation Department, the Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, and Speaking of Women's Health. Republished with permission.
Director of Outcomes and Quality Improvement, Alternative Interventions for Women, Hamilton County, Ohio.
Project Director, Alternative Interventions for Women, Hamilton County, Ohio.
This is the fourteenth article from the Supreme Court of Ohio Advisory Committee on Mentally Ill in the Courts about effectively dealing with mentally ill offenders in the criminal justice system. This article highlights Hamilton County's Alternative Interventions for Women program, a program that has made a difference in the lives of many of the people our Advisory Committee is trying to reach.
In March 2001, the Alternative Interventions for Women (AIW) program opened its doors in Cincinnati, Ohio as an innovative program of identification, early intervention, and treatment for female offenders with cooccurring mental health and substance abuse disorders to help support criminal justice and sentencing sanctions. Alternative Interventions for Women is located within Central Clinic's Court Clinic, a community-based agency that provides behavioral health and forensic services for the Hamilton County justice system. This program is funded through a partnership with The Health Foundation of Greater Cincinnati, the Hamilton County Probation Department, the Hamilton County Department of Pretrial Services, the Hamilton County Community Mental Health Board, and Hamilton County TASC.
The Alternative Interventions for Women program was developed after a needs assessment study identified key variables of women offenders who might benefit from an in-depth assessment to identify possible mental health and/or substance abuse treatment needs. For three years prior to the needs assessment study, members of the criminal justice system and community mental health leaders in Hamilton County worked together, with the support of __ Page 1070 the National Institute of Corrections (NIC), to learn about and plan alternative sanctions and services for women offenders. This group determined that a needs assessment study would provide information to better understand the mental health status of incarcerated women.
The study, formally named the Women's Assessment Project, was funded by the Hamilton County Probation Department to determine rates of mental health and substance abuse disorders, traumatic events, and cognitive functioning, using standardized assessment tools, in a sample of women arraigned through the Hamilton County Municipal Court between October and December 1999. Results of that study indicated a significant incidence of cooccurring mental health and substance abuse disorders (38%) in this population. In addition, 6% of the women were found to have a mental health disorder only and 31% percent were found to have a substance abuse disorder only.
These findings suggested that implementing a system of...