Launched as a pilot program in 2019 and in our county in February of 2022, the Behavioral Health Justice Involved Program is a partnership between Masshealth and the Massachusetts Executive Office of the Trial Court. Gosnold is the vendor for Barnstable, Dukes and Nantucket County. Referrals to BH-JI are predominantly received from our local Houses of Correction, the Department of Corrections across the state (for individuals releasing to Cape Cod), probation and parole departments, and our inpatient facilities.
In 2020, the average daily census at county correctional facilities in Massachusetts was approximately 3100 detained (pre-trial) individuals and 2900 sentenced individuals while the Department of Correction had 8700 incarcerated individuals. 90-95% of people justice involved in our state are Masshealth members (mass.gov).
The goal of this program is to pair a trained navigator with people who are leaving or have recently left jail or prison, people on parole or probation, or those that are awaiting trial that suffer from substance use disorder and/or mental health diagnoses. Once released the risk of overdose is high. Those that have been incarcerated are 120x more likely to die from opioid overdose than individuals with no incarceration history (Center for Health Policy and Research, University of Massachusetts Medical School. Opioid Overdoses Among High-Risk MassHealth Members: An Exploratory Analysis. July 20, 2017) and ten times more likely to meet the criteria for drug dependence or abuse than the general population. There is also a 35-45% incidence of mental health conditions among those in prisons and jails (US DOJ, MA DPH).
The BH-JI navigators help the enrollees find behavioral health services and social support in the community, including setting up inpatient or outpatient services, housing searches and applications, Department of Transitional assistance applications, coordinating Registry of Motor vehicle appointments and hearings, transportation, employment, insurance, ids., food insecurity support, communication devices and attending court appearances. When this population is connected to the right health care and community services it can improve health, reduce overdoses, and hopefully prevent re-incarceration, hospital stays and admission to inpatient detoxification facilities.