Problematic Behavior or Activity
Every year, 500 to 600 inmates are released in Marion County, one of the highest per capita rates statewide, with almost 4,000 people on parole or probation. The need for treatment among the Oregon corrections population is significant: 73 percent of inmates have an assessed need for substance use treatment, 51 percent reported being diagnosed with a mental health condition, and almost 70 percent of clients experienced homelessness.
Impact on the Community
The Link Up program will improve the life skills, health, and social functioning of clients transitioning from incarceration to the community in order to promote successful reintegration and reduce recidivism. The program will also reduce the number of participants testing positive for alcohol or illegal substances and increase the number of participants securing employment and housing.
Link Up provides mentoring and treatment services that support successful reentry for clients with co-occurring disorders. Professional mentors contact individuals four months prior to their release from prison and continue to support them for nine months post-release, including the time when clients are engaged in substance use and mental health treatment.
Clients identified as being at medium risk for recidivism receive 200 hours of cognitive-based intervention; those at high risk will receive 300 hours. The intervention is designed to enhance intrinsic motivations, with additional evidence-based practices addressing addiction and criminal thinking and behaviors.
Prerelease planning includes coordinating release dates, ensuring that there are no gaps in services between incarceration and release. Prior to release, recovery mentors will work with the transition parole officer, meet regularly with inmates, and assist in developing a case-management plan that becomes the dynamic planning tool for services and supports. As clients draw close to release dates, contact with the recovery mentor increases. Recovery mentors prioritize client needs that will guide the reentry transition process, such as clean and sober living arrangements, reconnection with abstinence-oriented family members, and participation in treatment and community recovery services. Clients are also assessed for eligibility for federal and state benefits, including health insurance, disability, and veteran’s services. This close contact with recovery mentors provides clients the opportunity for time-sensitive feedback about their transition.
Upon release, recovery mentors escort clients to the Parole and Probation office for corrections assessments, a review of their supervision conditions, and assignment to a PO. Treatment services begin within a week of the client’s release from prison. Those diagnosed with co-occurring disorders who may benefit from medications also have access to physicians and nurse practitioners. Concurrent with medication management, clients participate in the integrated co-occurring disorders program or cognitive behavioral programming by attending groups and individual counseling. Mentors help address problems as clients are confronted with pressures involved in community reintegration, such as assisting clients as they settle into housing and introducing them to community support meetings and other community linkages and reentry services.
Based on Research
Evidence-based practices suggest using integrated co-occurring treatment, including trauma-informed treatment, for substance use and mental health disorders, rather than services delivered as separate treatment modalities. This includes treatment for post-traumatic stress disorders and/or trauma symptoms.
Bridgeway Recovery Services staff working with Link Up are trained in Effective Practices in Community Supervision and motivational interviewing, in addition to having certifications for other public safety courses, including Parenting Inside Out. The Link Up program, through the treatment services provided by Bridgeway Recovery Services, received a “Very Satisfactory” score, which is the highest possible rating, through the Correctional Program Checklist.
For the first two years, Link Up was funded through a federal grant. This grant supported a full time Certified Alcohol and Drug Counselor, a full time professional mentor, a percentage of clinical supervision time, support staff time, psychotropic prescriber time, and other associated costs including cognitive materials, urine analysis testing, and transportation. Once federal grant funding ended, the program became completed funded by State Justice Reinvestment grant funding.
The Link Up program has been operating since 2014. As a result, three-year recidivism data is not available at this time. The target population is 60 to 80 medium- and high-risk clients per year. We expect future outcome measures to reflect:
- Reduced recidivism
- Fewer participants testing positive for alcohol or illegal substances
- Participants successfully completing co-occurring program requirements
- Post-release participants securing employment
- Post-release participants securing housing
Critical Success Factors
Link Up is a collaboration between the Marion County Sheriff’s Office, Parole and Probation Division, and Bridgeway Recovery Services. These partners are committed to providing evidence-based practices and collaborations among participating agencies.
The Link Up program changes the relationship paradigm between the clients and the criminal justice system, allowing them to see parole officers in a supportive role, rather than just a punitive one. Clients will also see a close collaboration between Marion County Parole and Probation officers and Bridgeway Recovery Services staff. When implementing a program and working with staff from other disciplines, it is important to risk overcommunication (rather than the opposite) and for everyone to be on the same page in terms of best practices, to further complement the treatment process.