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Off Paper – Episode 3: Treating Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders: When Is It Being Done Right?

May 16, 2017

Chronic substance use and mental health disorders are common problems for individuals in the criminal justice system. Alone or together, and sometimes in conjunction with other risk factors, these disorders can drive behavior that results in violation of supervision conditions or even in new criminal conduct. To deal with these problems, probation and pretrial offices services offices in the nation’s 94 U.S. district courts maintain contracts with treatment providers. Sometimes these offices can also supplement contract services with community-based treatment.

But what does good treatment look like? How should treatment providers be evaluated? How can probation and pretrial services offices ensure that individuals on community supervision are receiving appropriate, high-quality care? What outcomes should be expected from treatment providers? And, finally, are there proven practices criminal justice professionals can use to improve treatment outcomes?

In this episode of Off Paper, Dr. Peter Luongo answers these questions and talks about his more than thirty years researching, making policy, and treating individuals with substance use and mental health disorders in the criminal justice system. Dr. Luongo, Executive Director of the Institute for Research, Education and Training in Addictions (IRETA), has been a trainer and clinical consultant for the federal courts since 2011. Prior to that he served under three governors as director of Maryland’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Administration. Dr. Luongo has served as a faculty associate at Johns Hopkins University, and, in 2015, he was nominated and elected a Class A Trustee of the General Services Board of Alcoholics Anonymous. Off Paper is hosted by Mark Sherman of the Federal Judicial Center.

Off Paper: The Criminal Justice Podcast from the FJC focuses on issues of federal criminal justice and, more specifically, how those issues affect probation and pretrial services officers and their clients. When an individual has finished serving any time and successfully completed release requirements, that person is "off paper."