Vera’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program (SUMH) conducts applied research to help public officials and community organizations develop empirically driven responses to the substance use and mental health needs of people involved in justice systems. SUMH staff collect and analyze quantitative and qualitative data to examine the interaction between public health and justice systems and evaluate existing programs to understand the experiences of those affected by psychiatric disorders or substance use and policies that prolong their involvement in the justice system. 

Related Work

Minimizing Harm

Public Health and Justice System Responses to Drug Use and the Opioid Crisis

For the Record Evidence Brief SeriesHow government and communities should respond to drug use is a perennial question that has gained a renewed sense of urgency in the face of the current opioid overdose crisis, and annual deaths from overdose have grown more than ninefold since 1980. In addition to the thousands of lives claimed, thousands more Am...

Publication
  • Jim Parsons, Scarlet Neath
December 13, 2017
Publication

The Enhanced Pre-Arraignment Screening Unit

Improving Health Services, Medical Triage, and Diversion Opportunities in Manhattan Central Booking

New York City established Pre-Arraignment Medical Screening Units (PASUs) in all boroughs’ central booking facilities, except Staten Island, as a result of a 1993 legal settlement requiring the city to establish a process for screening the health needs of people who are arrested, booked into police custody, and awaiting arraignment. Unfortunately, ...

Publication
  • David Cloud, Leah Pope, Jim Parsons, Anne Siegler, Michelle Martelle
September 20, 2017
Publication

New White House Report Outlines Recommendations to Stem the Tide of Drug Overdose Deaths

The commission also focuses on law enforcement’s ability to prevent overdoses and save lives by urging the president to provide legislation for states to allow dispensing naloxone via standing orders. Naloxone is a life-saving drug that reverses the effects of an opioid overdose, is non-addictive, and has no effect if a person does not have opioids...

Blog Post
  • Vedan  Anthony-North
    Vedan Anthony-North
  • Leah  Pope
    Leah Pope
August 11, 2017
Blog Post

ACA Cuts Would Endanger Justice-Involved People with Disabilities, Behavioral Health Needs

In 2010, aiming to provide affordable and comprehensive healthcare to people who otherwise would not have access to essential services, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was signed into law. But in an effort to “repeal and replace” the ACA, federal lawmakers are currently considering legislation that, if enacted, will  undercut these services, negative...

Blog Post
  • Ashley Brompton
    Ashley Brompton
  • Vedan  Anthony-North
    Vedan Anthony-North
July 17, 2017
Blog Post

A New Normal

Addressing Opioid Use through the Criminal Justice System

The United States is experiencing an epidemic of drug overdose deaths that cuts across economic, racial, and geographic boundaries. In the midst of this devastation, people are struggling to find ways to save the lives of their community members. While the “war on drugs” created tough enforcement policies that resulted in a bloated justice system, ...

Publication
  • Leah Pope, Chelsea Davis, David Cloud, Ayesha Delany-Brumsey
February 21, 2017
Publication