Strengthening Families and CommunitiesExpanding Access to Health Care

Substance Use and Mental Health

It’s by now a truism that the criminal justice system and jails in particular are a dumping ground for people with substance use and mental health problems. Virtually no corner of the system is untouched, and much of Vera’s work with our government partners around the country addresses the challenges associated with identifying mental health needs and responding appropriately.

That expansive body of work includes a project to address the challenges public defenders face when representing clients with a mental health problem, with the goal of improving representation and case outcomes. Another explores systemic changes, as opposed to reactive measures, that correctional facilities can take to prevent the widespread problem of suicide and other serious self-harming behavior among incarcerated people. And we produced a groundbreaking study of the positive effects of reforming New York's infamous Rockefeller drug laws. We also work with law enforcement to ensure that harm reduction strategies are implemented as a response to substance use, and that best practices that divert people with mental illness from the justice system to the health system are supported. 

Related Work

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

Creating a Culture of Safety

Sentinel Event Reviews for Suicide and Self-Harm in Correctional Facilities

Since 2011, the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), through its Sentinel Events Initiative, has been investigating the feasibility of using a sentinel events approach to review and learn from errors in the criminal justice system such as wrongful convictions, eyewitness misidentifications, or incidents of suicide and self-harm in custody. Recogniz...

Publication
  • Leah Pope, Ayesha Delany-Brumsey
December 16, 2016
Publication

Remote Access

Using Video Technology to Treat Substance Users on Probation and Parole in South Dakota

The challenges of accessing services for alcohol and other drug use in South Dakota may have contributed to the state’s high percentage of people convicted of low-level nonviolent offenses, particularly for drug or alcohol related offenses. To minimize these challenges, especially for parolees and probationers residing in the state’s vast rural are...

Publication
  • Alison Shames, Ram Subramanian
October 21, 2016
Publication