Justice and Mental Health

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Experiencing or witnessing violence can significantly impact the way we see the world. Our research helps to reduce victimization and increase treatment options for those impacted by violence, while influencing policy and practice related to violence exposure.

Assisted Outpatient Treatment

September 2016 - September 2019

The Begun Center serves as the local evaluator for the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County’s (ADAMHSCC) Assisted Outpatient Treatment Pilot Program. The population to be served with the AOT Pilot program are persons with serious mental illness who are civilly committed to the public mental health system. The evaluation will involve a longitudinal review where the clients will serve as their own comparison group. Looking back 3 years prior to entrance in the program, the evaluation will examine whether the subjects’ trajectories have changed since their involvement with the AOT program, including, but not limited to, reduction in inpatient hospitalizations, period of homelessness and involvement in the criminal justice system. 

Research Team: David L. Hussey (Principal Investigator), Michelle L. Riske-Morris, Karen Coen Flynn, Sarah E. Fulton

Early Jail Diversion

October 2018 - September 2020

The Begun Center serves as research and evaluation partner to the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board through a grant from SAMHSA for the Cuyahoga County Jail Diversion Program (JDP). Through the JDP clinicians and peer support specialists from Frontline Services will work with City of Cleveland Police Department officers to reduce criminal sanctions for individuals with mental health challenges by providing them with timely and comprehensive assessment, referral, linkage, and follow-up to much needed community supports and treatments.

Research Team: David L. Hussey (Principal Investigator), Michelle L. Riske-Morris, Karen Coen Flynn

Cuyahoga County Crisis Response Needs Assessment

In 2018, the Alcohol Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board of Cuyahoga County (ADAMHSBCC) contracted with the Begun Center to conduct a comprehensive community needs assessment of Cuyahoga County’s crisis response system. This system is a complex and tiered one comprised of crisis response services that support clients whose safety and health are threatened by behavioral health challenges, including mental illness, developmental disabilities, substance use, and/or overwhelming stressors. 

The objective of this assessment was to include a broad enough range of participants to reliably surface the major underlying themes characterizing the responsiveness of the system in meeting the needs of clients and their families. The goal of this effort was to present these themes in ways that would be useful in assessing the effectiveness of the current system and later informing planning efforts for improvement. The report details strengths and identifies areas for improvement in the Cuyahoga County Crisis Response System.

Research Team: David L. Hussey (Principal Investigator), Michelle L. Riske-Morris, Karen Coen Flynn, Sarah E. Fulton

Read the report prepared by the Begun Center for the Cuyahoga County ADAMHS Board 

Innovations in Reentry

October 2018 - present

The Begun Center serves as action research partner and evaluator for the Office of Reentry (OR) Reentry Initiative – Adult Transition Model (ATM), the “backbone agency” for all things reentry in Cuyahoga County, OH. The goal is to create a comprehensive plan to reduce recidivism, alleviate homelessness, and create safer neighborhoods.

This will be accomplished through two parallel foci: 1) Improving the overall reentry network through greater systems coordination and collaboration and identification of systems gaps and legal/administrative barriers for individuals with criminal backgrounds. The emphasis will be on housing and employment; and 2) Comprehensive reentry programs that provide case-management and pre- and post-release services to a minimum of 300 individuals assessed as being medium to high risk of recidivating, with priority given to those who have a violent history, chronic homelessness, and/or are returning to communities with a disproportionate number of ex-offenders. Participants will be selected following an assessment utilize the risk assessment instruments validated by the University of Cincinnati (UC), including a specific reentry instrument – Ohio Risk Assessment System Supplemental Reentry Tool (ORAS-SRT). Oriana House will administer the ATM and provide assistance through its Neighborhood Reentry Resource Center. Towards Employment will create a workforce apprenticeship program and Community Assessment and Treatment Services (CATS) will provide trauma informed care post-

As part of this initiative, the Office of Reentry, in partnership with Case Western Reserve University Law School will create the Second Chance Reentry Law Clinic to assist returnees with a variety of collateral legal issues that resulted from their criminal record. The clinic will be overseen by a full-time clinical faculty member and staffed by upper- class law students. A social enterprise business focused on providing opportunities to the formerly incarcerated will ensure a stream of transitional job opportunities.

Research Team: David L. Hussey,  (Principal Investigator), Rodney Thomas