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Community-Based Care and Services for Justice Involved Individuals With Mental Illness: The Role of Federal Benefits

Blandford, Alexis Margaret (2009) Community-Based Care and Services for Justice Involved Individuals With Mental Illness: The Role of Federal Benefits. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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The number of individuals with mental illness in the criminal justice system is increasing. These individuals are the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in the public mental health system, yet little national data are available regarding their characteristics and experiences. Upon release from jail or prison, they face barriers to successful transition into the community. Mentally ill offenders can access mental health and addiction services and income support to pay for housing, food, and other necessities through federal entitlement programs. Many jail and prison inmates with mental illness either lose or are never connected with federal entitlements. It follows that without benefits, these individuals face the same challenges that are likely to have contributed to their original arrest. Connecting these individuals with services and support in the community can enhance their health and safety, and the health and safety of the public; hence this issue is of particular public health importance. This paper reviews the literature to explore the following questions: (1) Are individuals with mental illness who receive federal benefits upon release from jail more likely to seek and continue care than those who do not? And (2) what are the consequences of not continuing care for individuals with mental illness upon release from jail? Many policy organizations have released publications in recent years, highlighting the importance of having federal benefits and maintaining these during incarceration to enhance the likelihood of receiving care once released. A review of the academic literature reveals that there are major gaps in our knowledge and that there is little to substantiate the hypothesis that having federal benefits increases the likelihood of receiving services in the community. There is a need for data-based empirical studies, yet conducting these may be difficult. This issue is complex and it is likely that federal benefit enrollment is only one component of the problem and that facilitating enrollment will not necessarily enhance care. Programs that use an integrated approach to connect these individuals with community-based services are recommended.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Blandford, Alexis
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairTerry, Martha Annmaterry@pitt.eduMATERRY
Committee MemberNolan, Bethban17@pitt.eduBAN17
Committee MemberBurke, Jessicajgburke@pitt.eduJGBURKE
Committee MemberDonohue, Juliejdonohue@pitt.eduJDONOHUE
Date: 29 January 2009
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 1 December 2008
Approval Date: 29 January 2009
Submission Date: 5 December 2008
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Public Health > Behavioral and Community Health Sciences
Degree: MPH - Master of Public Health
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Criminal Justice; Federal Benefits; Mental Illness
Other ID:, etd-12052008-152013
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 20:08
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:53


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