Identifying characteristics of mentally ill homeless individuals who are successfully linked to health and social services post-incarceration via the jail inreach project
Healthcare for the Homeless—Houston (HHH) received a research grant from The Medallion Foundation, Inc. in March 2006 to pilot The Jail Inreach Project, an intensive “inreach” initiative to assess the impact of providing continuity of mental and primary health care services for homeless individuals who suffer from mental illness and/or substance abuse being released from jail. This pilot project was initiated by HHH, in collaboration with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office and the Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority of Harris County (MHMRA). Those who are flagged as “frequent flyers” and who are diagnosed with a mental illness are referred to the Jail Inreach Project. In order to maximize the effectiveness of the discharge plan, case managers offer the option of meeting the client at the time of release and bring them to the HHH clinic located four blocks from the jail. Participation in both the program and the option for direct release to the care of a case manager are voluntary.
The purpose of this study is to determine the outcomes of the Jail Inreach Project and addresses the following objectives: (1) to evaluate the characteristics of inmates that chose to be released from jail to the direct care of an HHH case manager versus those who opt for self release and (2) to determine the number and percent of inmates that are linked to services and relationship with type of release (direct versus indirect), (3) to determine if there is a relationship between outcomes and characteristics and (4) to determine what outcomes are a function of release, controlling for characteristics. Statistical analysis, including frequencies, cross tabulations, chi-square and logistical regression, found that those who opt for self release are six times less likely to be successfully linked to services and that gender is the most significant predictor of choosing self release. Men are far more likely to opt for self release than women engaged in this program. These findings help inform policy and program design and development that addresses the difference in service utilization and successful linkage to services post-incarceration. Successful linkage to services, thus continuity of and access to care, further impact the effects of the revolving door phenomenon of mentally ill homeless individuals cycling between the streets, jails and hospital emergency centers.
0573: Public health