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Strengthening connections among criminal justice agencies, behavioral health organizations, and the community to improve wellbeing for people with mental health conditions or co-occurring substance use disorders.

Co-Occurring Substance Use

A disproportionate number of people in the criminal justice system have co-occurring mental illnesses and substance use disorders. Indeed, approximately 60 percent of people who are incarcerated meet the criteria for “drug dependence or abuse.” Further, people have a significantly higher risk of death due to overdose when released from jail or prison than the general public.

Despite these high levels of substance addiction, relatively few people who come into contact with the justice system receive appropriate treatment. JMHCP assistance can help jurisdictions ensure that treatment—including Medication-Assisted Treatment for alcohol and opioid addiction, counseling, and behavioral therapy—is delivered in correctional facilities, at reentry, and in the community. These efforts to increase treatment access can help prevent relapse, overdose, and further involvement in the criminal justice system.

Improving Responses to People Who Have Co-occurring Mental Illnesses and Substance Use Disorders in Jails

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Selected Resources

Key Staff

Sarah Wurzburg

Sarah Wurzburg

Deputy Division Director, Behavioral Health

Sarah Wurzburg oversees technical assistance focused on behavioral health, diversion, and reentry and serves as the lead for projects related to substance use, mental illnesses, and housing. She leads the work on the development of community responder programs, including a toolkit that supports sites in development of non-police responses to people in crisis. Previously, Sarah was a research analyst at the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Abuse Directors, Inc., where she was the team lead for Youth and Women’s Services and was the primary author of research reports on youth substance use disorder treatment, driving under the influence, and Medicaid. Sarah has also worked as a juvenile court advocate and in community substance use disorder prevention. She received her BA from DePauw University in English (writing) and her MA in social services administration with a focus on policy analysis from the University of Chicago.

Rachel Lee

Rachel Lee

Project Manager, Behavioral Health

Rachel Lee provides technical assistance to Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grantees and offers support on other projects that focus on the intersection of behavioral health and criminal justice. Prior to joining the CSG Justice Center, Rachel worked for C4 Innovations, where she provided project assistance to several recovery-focused Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration initiatives. Rachel has also served as a therapist for people with behavioral health disorders in both inpatient and outpatient health care settings. Rachel earned her BA in psychology from Bates College and her MSW and MPA from Columbia University.

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