The Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, Mentally Retarded Offenders Program

Published date01 April 1986
Date01 April 1986
DOI10.1177/003288558606600109
Subject MatterArticles
77
The
Lancaster
County,
Pennsylvania,
Mentally
Retarded
Offenders
Program
David
White
and
Hubert
Wood*
*The
authors
are
co-directors
of
the
Program.
The
Lancaster
County
Mentally
Retarded
Of-
fenders
Program
(MRO)
is
the
only
program
in
the
United
States
which
has
combined
the
services
of
an
adult
probation
department
and
mental
health/mental
retardation
(MH/MR)
unit
to
deal
with
the
special
needs
of
mentally
retarded
offend-
ers.
Since
its
beginning
in
1980,
the
Lancaster
County
MRO
Program
has
won
awards
from
the
National
Association
of
Counties
and
Pennsylvania
MH/MR
Service
Providers
Association.
Programs
in
other
states
across
the
country
have
adopted
the
&dquo;Lancaster
County
model&dquo;
as
an
ideal
way
to
work
with
mentally
retarded
offenders.
Pennsylvania
has
recently
provided
funding
to
replicate
this
program
in
other
counties.
Issues
to
be
examined
include
whether
or
not
MRO
pro-
grams
can
be
effective
in
a
large
metropolitan
area
and
whether
the
M RO
program
model,
or
the
people
operating
the
model,
make
the
difference
for
men-
tally
retarded
offenders.
Lancaster
County
has
recently
expanded
their
program
to
begin
serving
juvenile
offenders.
The
special
needs
of
the
mentally
retarded
offender
cover
the
span
of
his/her
involvement
with
the
criminal
justice
system
-arrest,
prosecution,
incarceration,
and
placement
on
probation
or
parole.
The
community
mental
health/mental
retardation
(MH/MR)
system
has
often
been
unaware
of,
or
uninterested
in,
the
special
needs
of
mentally
retarded
offenders.
Once
a
retarded
citizen
becomes
an
offender,
the
advocate
system
tends
to
look
for
the
criminal
justice
system
to
assume
responsibility
for
the
client
and
his
actions.
Conversely,
the
criminal
justice
system
expects
MR
&dquo;experts&dquo;
to
provide
more
services
or
intervention
to
the
offend-
er.
Workers
in
both
the
criminal
justice
system
and
the
community
mental
health
and
mental
retardation
system
often
do
not
know
how
to
deal
effectively
with
the
reciprocal
systems,
or
do
not
have
time
to
deal
with
each
other’s
systems.
This
results
in
the
mentally

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