New Ventures has been involved with justice-related initiatives throughout the state of New Mexico and has worked collaboratively with leaders for justice-related initiatives in other states in the US. Many behavioral health providers, justice professionals, county managers and community leaders have become increasingly troubled by the overincarceration of the mentally ill. It further stigmatizes and hurts people, especially non-violent offenders with behavioral health and substance use issues.
The cost is high for individuals, families, communities and county and state budgets. An increasing number of county managers are working collaboratively with behavioral health, law enforcement and justice professionals to reduce unnecessary rates of incarceration and the costs of re-incarceration and recidivism. A movement is developing that holds great promise, if we are able to collectively address the policy change, services and systemic anchors needed to transform the system.
What is needed includes: (1) services at each of the sequential intercept points (SIMs) to provide law enforcement assisted diversion, court diversion, alternative sentencing, in-jail/prison supports, and intensive supports for transition from jail/prison back to the community; (2) policy changes to reduce the number, size and scope of conditions of release/parole to facilitate client success; (3) broad systemic change to address key anchors needed by people to make a successful transition, which include recovery/harm reduction, meeting goals and reducing challenges, finding accessible and affordable housing and living wage employment. This requires comprehensive community and statewide planning across traditional fields of behavioral health, law enforcement, courts, jails/prisons, community workforce programs, housing and economic development.