Westchester Receives NCCHC Program of the Year Award
Westchester County Department of Correction, Valhalla, New York – Community Oriented Re-Entry Program (CORE)
To improve the odds of successful reentry for individuals with mental illness, the Westchester County Department of Correction in 2014 established CORE for male inmates with mental illness. The accreditation committee commended the jail’s dedicated housing unit for male mental health patients and the broad collaborative effort to provide focused group programming and reentry assistance for these individuals.
CORE provides interventions through the joint effort of a wide variety of county and community partners. The immediate aims are to increase access to services, improve functioning, foster understanding between staff and inmates and reduce security-related incidents. Ultimately, the goals are to contribute to positive reentry outcomes and reduce recidivism.
Patients reside in a de
dicated, 44-bed housing unit that has a full-time program coordinator. Programming is offered daily and includes cognitive behavioral therapy, life skills, book study, job readiness, community health and wellness, Alcoholics Anonymous meetings and more. Individualized, weekly meetings focus on reentry services and a discharge plan that includes comprehensive community-based services.
The eligibility criteria are flexible and are based on level of functioning and need, and the expectation that the patient will benefit clinically. Participants must be somewhat stable, receptive to treatment and nonviolent. Despite the focus on reentry, some patients will return to general population and others will be transferred to a state prison.
Through the partnership, mental health professionals from community organizations conduct groups while mental health staff from the jail provide higher level clinical care. An interdisciplinary team meets weekly to manage this complex program.
Feedback has been very positive, and data suggest that security-related incidents have declined dramatically. This success has led to a similar program for adolescent males, and women now also receive the same core services, with program expansion planned.