RD390 - Evaluation of the Jail Mental Health Pilot Programs – October 2018
The high incidence of mental illness among inmates in local jails has long been recognized as a serious problem. A 2017 report from the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that, nationally, 26% of jail inmates exhibited signs of “serious mental distress." In Virginia, the State Compensation Board’s Mental Illness in Jails Report 2017 stated that 18% of inmates held in Virginia’s local jails were known or suspected to have a mental illness.
To address this problem, the 2016 Appropriations Act established the Jail Mental Health Pilot Program, an 18-month grant program to provide a continuum of behavioral health services to inmates incarcerated and released to the community. In July 2016, 19 Virginia local and regional jails submitted concept papers to DCJS describing their proposed mental health pilot program and funding budget. In December 2016, the Criminal Justice Services Board awarded grants of $1 million for FY17 and $2.5 million for FY18 to six of these jails: the Chesterfield County Sheriff’s Office, Hampton Roads Regional Jail, Middle River Regional Jail, Prince William Adult Detention Center, Richmond City Sheriff’s Office, and Western Virginia Regional Jail (see Table 1 and Figure 1).
This evaluation covers the period funded by these grants (January 1, 2017 — June 30, 2018) and focuses on the lessons learned that can be applied should Virginia decide to implement similar mental and behavioral health services in other jails. The aim was to identify which approaches to delivering these services appeared to be the most promising and the most challenging.