Cook County Frequent Users of Jail and Mental Health
Within Illinois there are approximately 65,000 people who are incarcerated at any point in time in our prisons and jails. Nearly 40,000 persons will leave Illinois prisons to return home this year. Cook County Jail, the nation’s largest single site jail, discharges nearly 100,000 people annually. Many of the people discharged from Cook County Jail will be homeless, without resources and in need of support services. Effectively preparing and supporting persons leaving prison and jail and preventing their return to these expensive institutions is important for both the individual and for the publicly funded system. Last year Illinois spent 1.6 billion dollars on the State Corrections System, and this cost does not include the cost of jails or police.
CSH is leading an initiative to house 120 people with intensive wrap-around services from four experienced community mental health agencies. The results of this intervention will be carefully evaluated by the Urban Institute as part of a National Institute of Justice Study, comparing these results to a matched sample group who will not receive these resources using a randomized control design. A comparison will be made as to changes in the experimental group’s use of public emergency services, including state psychiatric hospitals, jails, prisons, and emergency health care.
Working closely with Cermak Hospital, Cook County Jail, and the Division of Mental Health, and using enhanced data-matching software designed specifically for this project, research staff will identify the most frequent users of both the Cook County Jail and the State Mental Health System. This data will identify people cycling between both systems that can be identified for the study. Those persons identified and agreeing to be a part of the research will be assigned to either a control group with regular discharge services or will be assigned to the experimental group who will receive additional targeted housing and support services using new resources specific to this initiative.