Problematic Behavior or Activity
The Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Marion County District Attorney’s Office have researched and are preparing to implement a Pre-Trial Justice program, prison diversion programs through Justice Reinvestment, a Stepping Up initiative to divert people with mental illness from the county jail, and a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program that will effectively address “quality of life” crimes, a high percentage of which are committed by repeat offenders who are also high users of hospital emergency departments and social services. One component of all of these programs is to engage individuals with appropriate community-based resources, such as housing, employment, health, mental health, and addiction services.
Impact on the Community
This project seeks to address disproportionate incarceration rates for Marion County and increase successful community reintegration for the county’s reentry population to avoid recidivism. Marion County still has one of the highest rates of incarceration in the state at 1.34, compared to larger and similar-sized counties, such as Multnomah (.95), Washington (.88), Lane (1.25) and Clackamas (.80). The need for supportive services and resource linkages among the reentry population in Marion County is immense, with 70.3% of the Marion County Jail inmates reporting a previous experience of homelessness and 31.7% reporting that they have previously used heroin. In the month of February 2017 alone, 45% of arrests in Marion County were drug related. Marion County jail surveys have also demonstrated high numbers of inmates with mental health challenges.
Addressing incarceration rates and diverting high-risk individuals away from the prison system is a high priority for Marion County. Research has proven that diversion efforts focused on community-based, harm-reduction interventions can not only reduce incarceration and recidivism rates, but also significantly decrease costs related to usage of public resources. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office and Marion County District Attorney’s Office have researched and are preparing to implement a Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) program to effectively address low-level crimes, a high percentage of which are committed by repeat offenders who are also frequent utilizers of emergency and social services. LEAD is one component of the greater prison diversion effort in Marion County, which involves linking clients with appropriate community-based resources such as housing, employment, health, mental health, and addiction services. These services are facilitated by a skilled Resource Navigator working out of the De Muniz Resource Center, a position that is necessary in order to meet the growing needs of the program. This project allowed for the continuation of the Resource Navigator position and supported the county and its partners to continue to develop protocols and best practices for client engagement with appropriate community-based resources.
This project was funded with two micro-grants through the Center for Policing Excellence. Marion County also included funding for this staff position in its 2017-19 Justice Reinvestment Plan, pending the outcome of state budget processes.
The addition of a second Resource Navigator continues to help the De Muniz Resource Center achieve its mission of helping individuals successfully transition back to the community. Clients tend to have a higher level of engagement in services after they have spent time working individually with a Resource Navigator. Having a second Resource Navigator has allowed the De Muniz Resource Center to hold more individual sessions and increase the number of clients being served.
During the reporting period, the De Muniz Resource Center served 926 clients. Of these clients, 300 received support with Oregon Health Plan applications, 528 received employment linkages, 177 received housing linkages and 311 received life skills coaching from the Resource Navigators.
Compared to January-June 2017, De Muniz served 82% more clients during the current reporting period. In addition to increasing the overall number of clients served, there was a 143% increase in one-on-one navigator coaching sessions completed by the Resource Navigators during this reporting term.
In addition to an increase in the number of one-on-one navigator coaching sessions, the De Muniz Resource Center continued to provide support with applying for Oregon Health Plan (OHP) and saw 56% increase in the number of clients who received assistance signing up for OHP. There was a 65% increase in both the number of clients who received employment assistance and housing linkages.
Critical Success Factors
The addition of a second Resource Navigator has helped the De Muniz Resource Center continue to achieve its mission in helping individuals successfully transition to the community. The increase in the percentage of clients utilizing services will provide more individuals with access to resources that will help reduce recidivism.
Collaboration and on-going regular communication with community partners is key. Always give your collaborative partners the benefit of their positive intent. Ongoing evaluation and review are also important to ensure the program is achieving intended outcomes.