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

Changing Course in the Overdose Crisis

Moving from Punishment to Harm Reduction and Health

Drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the United States, and communities across the country are struggling to respond. But the punitive approach exemplified by the “war on drugs” has driven mass incarceration, exacerbated racial disparities within the criminal justice system, and devastated communities of color. The United State ...

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  • Jason Tan de Bibiana, Charlotte Miller, Leah Pope, Susan Stellin, Jim Parsons, David Cloud
February 21, 2020
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Preventing Suicide and Self-Harm in Jail

A Sentinel Events Approach

Suicide is the leading cause of death in jails across the country. At a time when the public is paying closer attention to local jails and their primary role in mass incarceration, it is critical to shine light on the problem of jail suicide and the steps jails can take to prevent future deaths. This report is the second from Vera that frames suici ...

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  • Jason Tan de Bibiana, Therese Todd, Leah Pope
July 08, 2019
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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 ...

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  • Jim Parsons, Scarlet Neath
December 13, 2017
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