Date of Conferral
Dianne A. Williams
The move toward reducing the prison population was driven by an increase in the number of reentry programs that focused on the needs of the offender, such as the provision of stable housing, employment, education, and sustaining strong familial bonds. While the literature supported these areas as being effective in reducing recidivism, there was no consensus that they were effective for offenders with mental illness (OMI). The purpose of this qualitative study was to analyze the impact of prerelease services for the OMI population from the perspective of former correctional mental health professionals who provided these services. The research questions were focused on understanding the needs of OMIs in a correctional setting, and in the community and how the ability or inability to meet these needs impacted their successful reentry. The conceptual framework for this qualitative phenomenological study was based on social construction of reality framework and the risk, needs, responsivity theory. Based on thematic analysis of data collected from interviews with former correctional mental health professionals, qualitative findings showed that reentry programming is offered at the same rate for non-OMI and was not specific to OMI risks and needs. The social change implications affect the OMI population as well as every community they reintegrate back into. The direct impact of social change for the OMI population could be a fiscal impact which affects all tax-paying citizens. An increase in the allocation of state and federal dollars to be directed to prerelease specific programming could have the potential to reduce the rate of homelessness, crime, and victimization by increasing the ability to meet the needs of the OMI population before they were released back to the community.