To reduce recidivism, we must first focus on human behavior. Why did Law Enforcement enter into the picture in a persons life in the first place. Then we need to shift our focus to the crimes committed and the ensuing arrest. To reduce recidivism we must focus on those who have already been incarcerated and successfully returned to productive lives. Then we will be able to create successful programs that will reduce recidivism in our Washoe County correctional facility.
The first step is to shift the focus of our attention to the factors and behaviors that most commonly lead to police involvement. Possession, use and addiction to drugs and alcohol along with mental illness are at the top of the list. Those addicted to drugs and alcohol often commit crimes to support their habits, or buy alcohol and drugs to self medicate their mental illness. For decades, incarceration has been the default response. Jail is often the only place to take people with drug, alcohol and mental health issues. Jail has therefore become the default mental health hospital and drug and alcohol detox center. We cannot arrest ourselves out of these problems.
Once Law Enforcement becomes involved, officers options are currently limited. This limitation is placing a burden on local hospitals, EMS services, jails and ultimately our society and tax dollars. People with mental illness require psychiatric treatment. Incarceration has the potential of worsening their mental illness and costs taxpayers as much as 2-3 times more than housing inmates without those issues. Once released these individuals are likely to be contacted by Law Enforcement again and again fueling the recidivism cycle.
One of the most urgent C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships) groups will be formed to consider alternatives to incarceration or transport to local hospitals. This group will be formed to create new community based sustainable programs and resources as an alternative to incarceration. This C-A-P group will be tasked with looking at ALL options and determining an appropriate course of action. Law Enforcement needs designated location(s) where they can bring these individuals, where they can receive temporary housing, medical and mental health care as well as access to wrap around services. As Sheriff of Washoe County, I will take this C-A-P group recommendations and will work diligently to implement them. Should these recommendations fall within Federal, State and local laws and guidelines I will advocate for them.
When the only alternative for Law Enforcement is arrest, I will implement a Sequential Intercept Model. By intercepting these individuals while in custody we will be able to make a smooth hand off to treatment programs and services outside the jail. This currently happens on a case by case basis through the IAP (Inmate Assistance Program). The current protocol is an arduous process. The detention unit has to wait until the person is being released from custody to intervene. In many instances, these individuals are taken out of the area for treatment. If the inmate is uninsured or cannot afford treatment, the inmate may not be able to access the current programs. This continues to fuel the recidivism rates and additional crimes.
Currently, the Sheriff’s Office does not offer Sequential Intercept programs for inmates in custody. The time while the inmate awaits disposition is an ideal time to insert a Sequential Intercept Model. I will form a C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships) panel to design and create a “Ground Zero Unit” This program will begin inside the detention facility. If we initiate the recovery/stabilization process while an inmate is in custody, that inmate is more likely to be successful once released into another supportive environment.
I am a proponent of the arrest, incarceration and stiff punishment for those convicted of producing and distributing illegal drugs within our communities and support every effort to incarcerate these criminals.
Please contact me to become a part of these C-A-P (Community Action Partnerships) programs. Together we CAN put an end to the high rates of recidivism in Washoe County.