Justice Reform

New Task Force Plans to Reduce Recidivism with Increased Health Care for Former Inmates

The National Association of Counties (NACo) and the National Sheriffs’ Association (NSA) have announced the establishment of a Joint Task Force to reduce recurrence of prisoners through continuity of health care services. The NACo-NSA task force plans to convene at least twice this spring and summer. The National District Attorney’s Association (NDAA) has been asked to select a member from among its ranks to partake in the task force to provide a perspective for local prosecutors. Erie County Attorney John Flynn was chosen for the position. Having a prosecutor on the force will provide valuable insight into the need for increased access to services for veterans who frequently get into trouble with the criminal justice system due to post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse or other disorders. The new task force has 28 members, uniting county officials, sheriffs, prosecutors, judges, public defenders and behavioral health partners to develop a coordinated response to the dilemmas faced by those released from prison. Flynn is the task force’s only prosecutor. The Co-chairs are Arapahoe County Commissioner Nancy Sharpe and Sheriff Greg Champagne of Parish St. Charles, Louisiana.

Members of the new task force will explore the impact of existing federal policies on local prisoners’ recurrence and health outcomes. A focus will be placed on people with mental health, substance use disorders and/or other chronic health conditions. Flynn stated that “Under current law, those who can afford bail keep their health care while those unable to pay – who are most susceptible to illness – face a gap in coverage. Research shows gaps in coverage leads to higher rates of recidivism resulting in over-incarceration.” This impressive task force also welcomes assistance from other governmental, corporate, academic and philanthropic partners’ participation and contributions.