Inmate Mental Health Services

A partnership exists between the Anne Arundel County Department of Detention Facilities and the Mental Health Agency to supplement mental health services available to inmates through the AACDDF Medical Contract.

As the numbers of persons with mental illness entering JRDC and ORCC increased, the need to develop a new, more coordinated approach to identifying and treating mentally ill inmates became evident. What evolved is a system of mental health service delivery that begins with screening and assessment following intake, continues with treatment and collaborative tracking of progress during the term of incarceration, and concludes with aftercare and case management services upon re-entry. 

The Goal

The goal: to interrupt the revolving door cycle of arrest, detention, release and re-arrest for persons with mental illness and co-occurring disorders. JRDC’s Mental Health Unit represents an important component of the system, housing mentally ill inmates for evaluation and treatment. DDF’s mental health system include a Director of Mental Health Services, Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Psychiatric Nurse, licensed clinicians and mental health case managers, all of whom act as a team to provide coordinated, comprehensive and effective service delivery. 

The ultimate goal is to utilize all programs and services available, to ensure that no inmate involved in DDF’s internal mental health system is released to the community without services.

All inmates undergo mental health screening by a nurse within 4 hours of intake. Inmates who screen positive for possible mental health risk factors at intake or at any point during their incarceration are referred for psychosocial assessment by a licensed clinician. Following the assessment, individualized treatment plans are developed and housing decisions are made for inmates diagnosed with a major mental illness, to include the Mental Health Unit, if appropriate. Referral for housing in the Mental Health Unit is subject to review and approval by the Psychiatrist and Psychologist.

JRDC’s 30-bed MHU is a therapeutic community designed to treat and stabilize mentally ill inmates for return to the general population and ultimately, the community. Admission to the Unit is at the sole discretion of mental health professionals based on diagnosis and suitability for the environment. Length of stay on the MHU is variable, but is generally short-term. Inmates assigned to the MHU may participate in individual and group therapy. Additional programming may include Conflict Resolution; Social Skills; Goal-Setting; Life Skills; and Substance Abuse, Mental Illness & Health. Each week, inmates are reviewed by the Mental Health Team to determine progress and readiness for release from the Unit. Detention Officers and Correctional Program Specialists are specially selected and trained to work in the Unit and support the Mental Health Team.

Individualized Treatment Plans are established for all inmates with mental illness, whether housed on the MHU, segregation, or in general population at either JRDC or ORCC. Treatment plans include the most current pharmacological interventions available as clinically indicated, as well as individual and group therapy when appropriate.

Qualifying inmates are referred to Mental Health Case Managers for establishment of aftercare plans that are consistent with their internal course of treatment. Case Managers’ priorities include assuring that released inmates have procured entitlements for which they are eligible, that they have been adequately referred and accepted to the appropriate community based services, and that all monitoring authorities (e.g., Parole & Probation or Pretrial Services) are kept abreast of efforts to seek treatment. Case Managers are responsible for aftercare planning in preparation for and following the inmate’s discharge from custody.

Inmates requiring more intensive care at any point during their incarceration are evaluated to determine qualification for admission to a state psychiatric hospital. To ensure continuity of care, inmates returning from hospitals are immediately screened by medical and mental health professionals. The inmate’s hospital discharge instructions are reviewed and incorporated into treatment plans, when applicable. If recommended, inmates returning from state psychiatric hospitals are transferred directly to the MHU.

To the extent possible and appropriate, an inmate’s status in the criminal justice system is taken into consideration in development of aftercare plans. 

For Sentenced Inmates, plans are developed based on the scheduled release date. If probation follows, aftercare arrangements are shared with Parole & Probation.

For Pretrial Inmates scheduled for bail reconsideration hearings, Pretrial Services offer aftercare recommendations for the court’s consideration in setting conditions of pretrial release.

For Pretrial Inmates held pending trial, treatment and aftercare information is shared with defense counsel in advance of trial, provided authorization to release the information is granted by the inmate.

The ultimate goal is to utilize all programs and services available, to ensure that no inmate involved in DDF’s internal mental health system is released to the community without services.  

The Court may refer inmates for mental health services through Pretrial Services at bail hearings, or on Commitment Records should a mental health concern arise at any subsequent proceeding.  Placement in JRDC’s Mental Health Unit is at the sole discretion of the Director of Mental Health, Psychiatrist, Psychologist and Licensed Clinicians.