Reforming Behavioral Healthcare Services for Justice-Involved Residents

In Washington D.C., one in eight adults is justice involved, and many need access to behavioral health services. To reduce recidivism, the Department of Behavioral Health (DBH) is working to provide a stronger continuum of services for justice-involved individuals, from pre-arrest through post-incarceration. To this end, DBH developed a Forensic Services Division (FSD) to standardize and streamline how people are assessed and treated for behavioral-health interventions. Supporting the division’s work, FUSE executive fellow C. Brent Kiser helped develop, improve, and standardize operations throughout the organization and with other agencies, ultimately improving services for justice-involved individuals. To do this, Brent coordinated training in evidence-based programs across all Core Service Agencies so that staff are held to the same standards of practice. He helped develop consistent methods for FSD practitioners as well, so courts can be confident that behavioral interventions are based on prevalent evidence-based protocols. Additionally, he implemented strategies for updating forensic policies and procedures, and he provided a roadmap for fidelity in service delivery. He secured a grant for a workshop that brought together more than 40 community stakeholders to discuss and review current processes and procedures regarding the opioid issue and justice-involved individuals, which helped address gaps in service delivery and highlight promising new practices. He also attained a grant to provide training in Thinking for a Change and Decision Points — evidence-based cognitive behavior change programs — to Core Service Agency staff who work with justice-involved individuals, which should further help lower the rate of recidivism.