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SOAR Criminal Justice Technical Assistance Awards

Between 2017-2019 the SAMHSA SOAR Technical Assistance (TA) Center granted Criminal Justice (CJ) TA Awards to eighteen Criminal Justice Centers across the country.

Criminal Justice TA Awards

Eighteen agencies were chosen over the course of three years to receive support from the SOAR TA Center to develop SOAR implementation plans in CJ settings. Through this award, recipients were able to improve their efforts in connecting individuals leaving correctional facilities to needed resources. Each awardee received an on-site planning meeting, participation in the SOAR Leadership Academy, support through the SOAR Online Course, and tracking outcomes through the Online Application Tracking (OAT) system. Below are some examples of awardees.

Image of U.S. Map with locations of TA Award

Delaware Department of Corrections

The Delaware Department of Corrections operates as a unified system to include both jail and prison populations with a current recidivism rate of 76 percent. Recognizing that this population experiences mental and physical health challenges that decrease post-release success, the Department will use SOAR as part of their revised Discharge Planning Policy to support reintegration. The Department will begin SOAR implementation with a pilot to assist with the completion of pre-release applications for veterans referred to the Delaware Veteran Home Program. Terri Townsend, Social Service Administrator with the Delaware Department of Corrections, Bureau of Correctional Healthcare Services, will act as the SOAR CJ Lead and oversee implementation plans.

Mississippi Department of Corrections                      

Recent legislation in House Bill 585 mandates that the Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) provides benefits assistance to individuals preparing to be released from incarceration. Petrice Adams, MDOC Reentry Special Projects Coordinator, will serve as the SOAR CJ Lead for SOAR implementation. The department will use the SOAR model as a tool to address reentry efforts to increase access to housing and treatment resources with a goal of reducing recidivism for justice-involved persons returning to the community.

Directions for Living

Pinellas County, Florida
Directions for Living (DFL) is a community-based agency that provides prevention, wellness and recovery services for children, adults and families in Pinellas, Pasco, Hardee and Highland counties. The agency is currently an active community SOAR provider that expanded their SOAR program to include services to justice-involved persons currently residing in Pinellas County jail. Connie Allen, DFL’s current SOAR coordinator, will serve as the SOAR CJ Lead.  Connie states that the vision is to use SOAR as a tool to assist this population and to “eliminate homelessness upon release.”

Newark Community Solutions

Newark, New Jersey
Launched in 2011 by the Center for Court Innovation, Newark Community Solutions is a community justice initiative that apples a problem-solving approach to low-level cases in Newark’s municipal court system. Their goal is to provide judges with increased sentencing options for non-violent offenders. Colleen Smith, Clinical Director, is identified as the SOAR CJ Local Lead and will work to enhance benefits acquisition efforts.

New Hour for Women and Children

Long Island, New York
New Hour for Women and Children is the only non-profit organization that provides services to currently and formerly incarcerated women on Long Island. The mission of the agency is to provide pre- and post-release services that promote community reentry and family reunification. New Hour’s Director of Programs and Reentry Services, Russelle Miller-Hill will serve as the SOAR CJ Lead committed to implementing SOAR in order to increase post-release success for the women they serve.

Martin Girls Academy

Stuart, Florida
Under the jurisdiction of the Department of Juvenile Justice, Martin Girls Academy (MGA) is a maximum security, high-risk mental health corrections facility for girls ages 13-18. MGA will work to use SOAR as a tool to address the need for stable housing and access to community mental health and the continuation of care with limited interruption of services.  Brian Berger, SOAR CJ Lead, will use the SOAR model to complete disability applications, track outcomes and annual reporting. As stated in the MGA application, “The SOAR program will undoubtedly help the young women at MGA find their best chance of success; with this integration, we are changing lives and making our community stronger.”