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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Many citizens, in the United States and other worldly countries, struggle with an addiction and dependency on substances. According to the Behavioral Health Barometer United Sates, Volume 5, the two most frequently used substances in the U.S. are marijuana and cigarettes, however prescription drugs and other hallucinogenic drugs are becoming increasingly popular. A report prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provided data statistics regarding alcohol and drug abuse, as well as mental health issues that the general population of the U.S. face. The data collected surveys citizens over the age of 12, including youth and young adults.

As substances become more heavily abused, an individual’s mental and physical health become more endangering to themselves and others. More and more youth and young adults are developing addictions to substances, which can impact the rest of their lives negatively. Among youth aged 12-17 in the U.S. in 2017, 7.9% (2 million) used illicit drugs in the past month. Of the 7.9%, 1.5% reported misusing psychotherapeutic prescription drugs and another 1.35% reported misusing inhalants, hallucinogens, cocaine or heroin. It is an increasing problem that young children have access to behavior altering drugs that are very strong and endangering. Among young adults aged 18-25 in the U.S. in 2017, 14.8% (5.1 million) had a substance use disorder in the past year. As substance use becomes more popular on college campuses, students experiment more and get swept up in misusing drugs. Among people aged 12 or older in the U.S. in 2017, 7.2% (19.7 million) had a substance use disorder in the past year. As people experiment and abuse substances, their risk perceptions are altered and lower, according to the survey, as they do not see overdosing or using the substances as endangering as they are.

With using hallucinate and behavior altering substances, people can have the tendency to commit crimes due to behavioral changes or to pay for the drugs. This can land them in the criminal justice system which then most likely gives way to a trial resulting in some prison time, parole or probation.

TRACKtech. LLC is committed to helping change substance abuse of those entering society, helping reduce recidivism. With the TRACKphone, supervisors are able to locate program members (the offenders) through GPS location monitoring and frequently check-in or establish remote meetings through video-conferencing. This can ensure contact with the program members, providing a support system to help keep them in a healthy and active behavioral state. Different resources and programs are also provided by TRACKtech, in the hopes of helping people stay on their path to recovery and keep control of their lives through supportive means.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

With September being the dedicated month to recovery, people are raising awareness about recovery issues and the many hardships endured every minute of one’s recovery path. A national report was conducted about alcohol and substance abuse, as well as mental health issues. The data, according to the Behavioral Health Barometer United States, Volume 5, outlines the abuse of different substances and treatments in populations of any person over the age of 12, including youth and young adults.

National Recovery Month is a time for people to come together and support one another who have struggled with the same or similar addictions as they have. As addictions, abuse and mental health issues are more openly discussed, removing the stigma, people are more inclined to seek treatment. In 2017 in a single day, 1.4 million people in the U.S. were enrolled in a substance use treatment program. Of this 1.4 million seeking treatment, 37% had both a drug and alcohol addiction, 47.7% had a drug problem only and 15.6% only had an alcohol problem. It is difficult and time consuming for people to seek treatment, as it can be considered almost a defeat by the substance. Though, more people though are accepting that they are struggling with the abuse of a substance or mental issues and realize they need to seek treatment. People are more inclined to seek treatment and start their road to recovery if they feel supported and have better access to resources and programs.

TRACKtech. LLC is able to help those on probation or parole who are recovering from substance abuse or a mental health illness. The TRACKphone provides resources and programs to support recovering addicts and those struggling with a mental illness by keeping them in a more rehabilitative and supportive environment. It also eases the case workers job by monitoring the location of the program member and establishing boundaries to keep them on their path to recovery. As well, it provides supervisors with the ability to check-in remotely and video conference with the program member through biometric verification. TRACKtech was created to observe, predict, and influence by working together to support people’s roads to recovery and providing the guidance they need to do this.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

A recent article published by the Justice Center The Council of State Governments discusses the recently signed Assembly Bill 236 by Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak. It is a “Justice Reinvestment bill that aims to rebalance the use of criminal justice resources and invest in strategies that reduce recidivism, support law enforcement, and expand access to behavioral health services.” The legislation hopes the bill will “avert 63% of projected growth in prison populations over the next decade, saving taxpayers $543 million.” As prison populations continue to increase, many people who enter the Nevada prisons are convicted of low-level, nonviolent drug or property crimes. However, once in the prison system, there is a lack of appropriate behavioral health interventions. There is a significant gap in services for people who are struggling with substance addictions and/or mental illnesses. 

Rebalancing criminal justice resources is necessary and beneficial to an inmate’s health. This legislation is aiming to target interventions and services for people with behavioral health needs. TRACKtech, LLC is taking the approach of working to help inmates as they reenter society with their behavioral health needs by providing support and access to resources. These resources help to rehabilitate program members effectively and provide outlets for seeking help. Working with case managers, TRACKtech offers extensive support to help program members improve their behavioral health issues and mental illnesses. We encourage others to follow this lead as it is a significant problem the world population faces, in and out of the prison system. 

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
The National Alliance of Mental Illness Tri Cities in Washington is scheduled to host a discussion about their “Lourdes Prosecutorial Diversion” program. The program provides another option for law enforcement officers in dealing with low-level, non-violent offenders with symptoms of mental illness. It has been in effect for three years, and it identifies inmates with behavioral health conditions in Benton and Franklin County Jails, particularly where competence issues arise. The vast majority of those with mental health issues are less likely than anyone else to be violent, criminal, or dangerous. According to a study published by American Psychological Association of Crimes committed by those with a mental illness, only 7.5% were directly related to symptoms of a mental disorder. People with mental illnesses are not inherently prone to crime, but for those who have persistent illnesses that are chronic and have reoccurring flare ups that impact their judgement, they may do things they normally would not, such as shoplifting or trespassing.

Jail is not a place conducive to mental health treatment. The program is in effect to engage these patients with treatment so they can return to a functioning and coherent state. Upon completion of the program, which can span from six months to a year, the inmate’s charges will be dropped if they are low level crimes. The inmate will also receive resources such as housing and medical treatment.

A large majority of these inmates are charged for trespassing. Adriana Mercado, the Care Coordinator for the program, states that trespassing is very common because these individuals are symptomatic, or they haven’t been on the proper medications. “It’s really rewarding to get somebody into a home and see that change of behavior” as 50 inmates have successfully finished the program. According to Mercado, the recurrence rate has dropped substantially among these inmates.

The program collaborates with the crisis response and in-patient unit, Transitions, to determine the most suitable placement for each inmate so they can receive medication and work on becoming stable. The end goal of the program is to reduce recidivism for those who already face a very high chance of returning to prison once they are released.

Ken Hohenberg, the Police Chief of Kennewick, has stated that “from my perspective, this is not only going to be able to help keep people out of the criminal justice system that truly don’t belong there, but also provide some hope for their families and friends. We see this as the right thing to do.”
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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

A MetroHealth initiative that supports people who have serious mental health diagnoses and criminal convictions has been making strides to help people get their lives back and stay out of prison. The Wellness Reentry Assistance Program (WRAP), which began in 2013, identifies Cuyahoga County jail inmates exhibiting serious mental health conditions and provides them health care and support. It also provides addiction care for the 30-50% of inmates who are struggling with substance abuse. 

The free program is instrumental in ensuring inmates continue to receive the help they need through re-entry. Program members learn to fill out food stamp applications and social security paperwork, receive job training, and learn how to find housing. They also are informed on how to schedule and arrange transportation to a doctor’s appointment and have their prescriptions filled. Rashell Tallen, a WRAP nurse care coordinator, explains how devastating and confusing the world can be for someone who has just been released from jail. “I see it time and time again, it’s very overwhelming for these folks. They don’t know where to start. You walk out of jail and you might have lost your apartment and all your clothes and everything. You’re just standing there on the sidewalk. Our patients know that they can come here, that we have a plan.”

This program not only helps those who are currently incarcerated, but also those who have a criminal history. The program has improved the lives of nearly 900 people since 2013. The people participating in the program are usually low-level and nonviolent offenders. Between 2015 and 2018, 214 people participating in the program were arrested and jailed half as often as before they were in the program. 

WRAP costs between $200,000 and $300,000 annually, and has garnered support from the Woodruff Foundation, the U.S Department of Justice, and the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County. The program’s founder, Ewald Horwath, has had success with the program because they do not stigmatize their program members. “We don’t view our patients primarily as offenders, even though they are in jail. We’re approaching it from the standpoint of these are people who need treatment.” And their treatment is working.

One 38-year-old mother from Parma, Shannon Kuhn, attributes her regaining control of her life and getting sober to WRAP. She was approached about the program during a 2-month period at Cuyahoga County jail over a year ago – her first time being incarcerated. Since then, her charges have been dropped and she is awaiting expungement, all because of her participation in the program. She was homeless and staying with a friend, she had lost all hope. She had never received the kind of support that she got from the program before, and it overjoyed her. “They let me know that they were going to be there for me. They have been there for me for over a year now, every step of the way with anything I needed.” Thanks to this innovative program, she now has a home, a full time job, and a car. She can live her life with her daughter, sober and brimming with ambition.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Recidivism

Behavioral health professionals say it’s important to address mental health issues – even more so for an incarcerated individual. Corina Fisher, a Psychologist at L.E Phillips Libertas Treatment Center in Chippewa Falls, WI, states that we desperately need better services in jail. Recidivism will not be reduced, and criminal behavior will not be stopped by just locking up offenders with mental health issues. These individuals need to be rehabilitated so that when released, they can become productive citizens of society.

Governor Tony Evers of Chippewa County, WI has made a recent budget proposal to expand services to inmates with mental health needs. His new proposal would improve a statewide program called “Oars”, or Opening Avenues to Reentry Success, which is aimed at providing mental health resources to prisoners considered to be at a high risk of reoffending.

The Chippewa County Jail can accommodate up to 200 inmates, with a daily average of 130. In that daily average, Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk says that they deal with both female and male inmates with some type of mental illness. He says that it can be a serious challenge for law enforcement as their resources for handling this group is limited. Unfortunately, that lack of mental health resources often eventually leads these inmates right back behind bars. Kowalczyk said that today he is witnessing more and more issues of mental health than when he first became sheriff more than a decade ago.

Over 300 prisoners participated in the Oars mental health program last year. This new budget proposal includes funding for an additional 225 prisoners and could greatly improve the chances of those with mental illness to get a head start on improving their lives and overcoming recidivism.

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