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Ohio gets B for helping criminals with mental illness

(September 20, 2017) — Ohio earned high marks on a new report looking at the availability of evidence-based treatments to help people with serious mental illness who have committed major crimes avoid more time behind bars.

The Buckeye State received a “B”, according to the report released Wednesday by the Treatment Advocacy Center. No state received an A.

“Ohio’s forensic services have most of the recommended elements of a model program, combined with a fairly strong civil treatment system,” the report read. “The state has demonstrated an interest in recent years in improving mental health treatment laws and has seen them funded and implemented.”

The report lists three recommendations for Ohio: expand its use of forensic community treatment teams, review length-of-stay practices for discharge from

forensic hospitals and improve coordination of county-to county transfers for forensic releases.

Hawaii, Maine, Missouri and Oregon earned the highest grade with a B+. Seven states, including Ohio, received a B.

The report, Treat or Repeat: A State Survey of Serious Mental Illness, Major Crimes, and Community Treatment, shows people with serious mental illness who have committed major crimes are a high risk of recidivism. On the flip, the report also discovered evidence-based programs can lower the risk of re-arrest for these people from an average rate of 40 to 60 percent five years after release to 10 percent or less.

“The message from this survey is that using evidence-based programs like extended conditional release, forensic community treatment teams, and management with a psychiatric security review board can allow those with severe mental illness to succeed and remain safely in the community,” John Snook, executive director of the Treatment Advocacy Center said in a statement.

People with serious mental illness who have committed major crimes make up two percent of the estimated 8.2 million individuals with a severe psychiatric disease in the United States, according to the report. Without treatment, these people are at an increased risk of being arrested again after being released from jail or prison or discharged from a forensic hospital, report reads.