Justice Program

A new initiative of CMHA-NL, the mission of the Justice Program is to provide individualized support services to persons diagnosed with a mental illness, concurrent disorder or dual diagnosis within the correction system and following release into the community in order to promote recovery and a reduction in recidivism.

Program Goals and Objectives:

To provide in-reach to inmates at Her Majesty’s Penitentiary (HMP) for purposes of assessment and provision of support;
To develop a community support plan with the inmate prior to release from HMP;
And to provide intensive case management services to 25 clients released from HMP and residing in the St. John’s region.

Background

Persons with a mental illness are overrepresented in the corrections system because their mental health needs are not always identified or treated properly. Within the Canadian corrections system, the prevalence of mental health issues in offenders exceeds that of the general population, with current estimates of 11% having a diagnosis upon admission, which is a 71% increase since 1997 (Service, 2010). Often the mental health issues of offenders go unaddressed and upon release in the community without appropriate supports in place, there is a risk to re-offend, which stalls their recovery.

The Justice Program arose from the Decades of Darkness report which outlined similar issues in the corrections system in Newfoundland and Labrador. It is a community- based initiative of CMHA-NL and is funded and supported by the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Community Services of the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador.

What We Do

The Justice Program serves to address the needs of 25 individuals with a mental illness who come into conflict with the law with very complex needs. We will provide individualized in-reach support services to persons diagnosed with mental illness, concurrent disorder, or dual diagnosis within the correction system at HMP and following release in order to promote recovery and a reduction in recidivism. During the individual’s incarceration, the coordinator and case managers will provide in-reach mental health counseling and advocacy, as well as a needs assessment to ensure the appropriate services are in place for release.

Upon release from Her Majesty’s Penitentiary, the Justice Program will meet the individuals "at the gate" and provide intensive case management in the community. Case Management will assist with ensuring all the individuals basic needs are met such as housing, food, and services appropriate to the individuals needs. Intensive case management promotes independence and quality of life through the coordination of appropriate services and the provision of constant and on-going support as needed by the individual. The direct involvement of the individual and the development of a caring, supportive relationship between the case manager and the individual are integral components of the intensive case management process.

Intensive case management is responsive to the individual’s multiple and changing needs, and plays a pivotal role in coordinating required services from across the mental health system as well as other service systems (i.e., criminal justice, developmental services and addictions).

The case managers of the Justice Program will work to build a trusting and productive relationship with the individual, and to provide the support and resources that they need to achieve goals and stabilize and improve the quality of his life.

Contact

For more information, please contact Justice Program Coordinator Heidi Edgar at (709)753-8550 Ext. 106, toll free 1-877-753-8550, ext.106, or at Her Majesty's Penitentiary at (709)729-1268.

References and further reading

Service, J. (2010). Under Warrant: A Review of the Implementation of the Correctional Service of Canada’s “Mental Health Strategy.’ Prepared for the Office of the Correctional investigator of Canada.