Engagement processes in model programs for community reentry from prison for people with serious mental illness

Beth Angell, Elizabeth Matthews, Stacey Barrenger, Amy C. Watson, Jeffrey Draine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Linking prisoners with mental illness with treatment following release is critical to preventing recidivism, but little research exists to inform efforts to engage them effectively. This presentation compares the engagement process in two model programs, each representing an evidence-based practice for mental health which has been adapted to the context of prison reentry. One model, Forensic Assertive Community Treatment (FACT), emphasizes a long-term wrap-around approach that seeks to maximize continuity of care by concentrating all services within one interdisciplinary team; the other, Critical Time Intervention (CTI), is a time-limited intervention that promotes linkages to outside services and bolsters natural support systems. To compare engagement practices, we analyze data from two qualitative studies, each conducted in a newly developed treatment program serving prisoners with mental illness being discharged from prisons to urban communities. Findings show that the working relationship in reentry services exhibits unique features and is furthered in both programs by the use of practitioner strategies of engagement, including tangible assistance, methods of interacting with consumers, and encouragement of service use via third parties such as families and parole officers. Nevertheless, each program exhibited distinct cultures and rituals of reentry that were associated with fundamental differences in philosophy and differences in resources available to each program.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-500
Number of pages11
JournalInternational Journal of Law and Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2014


  • Critical Time Intervention
  • Engagement models
  • Forensic Assertive Community Treatment
  • Prisoners
  • Reentry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Law


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