In February of 2016, the Lake County Sheriff’s Office joined the Safety and Justice Challenge to test innovative criminal justice reforms.
Lake County was chosen to receive a grant from the Safety and Justice Challenge, supported by the John D. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation, following a highly competitive selection process which drew applications from across the country.
Through the Challenge’s Innovation Fund, Lake County received support and expert technical assistance in designing and implementing local reforms. Lake County’s innovations focus on intensive case management to 30 ‘high utilizers’ of the Lake County Jail. This intensive case management will be used to motivate the high users upon reentry to the community. Upon release, they are provided a “warm handoff” of individualized coordinated multi-agency existing services, based on the person’s needs, with the goal of diverting the group of ‘high utilizers’ from rearrest and reincarceration.
Throughout the year, Lake County Jail Staff and Nicasa Behavioral Health Services worked together developing a criteria and protocol to identify and assist 30 ‘high utilizers’ of the jail. A ‘high utilizer’ is identified as an inmate who was booked into the Lake County Jail on three or more occasions in a 12-month period.
When an inmate meets the criteria, the Lake County Jail Reentry Specialist conducts an initial interview with the inmate to determine if they are a candidate. If the inmate is willing to participate, he or she next meets with a Nicasa Case Manager. The Nicasa Case Manager works with the inmate to identify any potential barriers and establish links to community services once the inmate is released from the Lake County Jail. The Nicasa Case Manager is responsible for helping the inmate navigate through the system and obtain community services, keep appointments, and arrange transportation to/from necessary meetings.
If the inmate remains out of custody for an entire year, their case is considered a success.
Thus far, the program identified 31 inmates for the new program. Of the 31 inmates:
•15 inmates are successfully cycling through the program and haven’t been re-booked into the jail.
•11 additional inmates have been identified and agreed to volunteer, but haven’t yet been released from the jail.
•Five inmates were discharged from the program after becoming non-compliant.
Sheriff Mark Curran said, “We’ve put this program together in an effort to reduce recidivism and reduce reincarceration, which benefits society and subsequently reduces jail costs. Thus far, out of the 20 participants who’ve been released from custody, 15 are currently successful in the program. We view this promising effort as another method of diverting people away from reincarceration and addressing their basic needs such as substance abuse treatment, affordable housing, and mental health care.”