The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

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February 1, 2014

Data: Disorders are severe for many mentally ill inmates

(Continued)

Leaving prison

When a mentally ill prisoner is released from the Joseph Harp Center, he receives up to 60 days worth of the psychiatric medication he needs, a Harp Center clinician said.

The former inmate also is guided to various state agencies that have teamed up to try to ensure mentally ill prisoners have access to prescription medicine after release and don’t reoffend.

Efforts include offering reintegration services and connecting prisoners with mental-health services on the outside, Morgan said.

Evidence shows such programs work, cutting recidivism rates among participating offenders by around half, Morgan said. But similar programs would have a greater impact if administered before someone went to prison.

Tate, of Northcare, said it could take decades to reverse all of the issues surrounding mental illness in the state.

“We have to change our thinking to, ‘It’s too expensive to throw people away,’” Tate said.

Oklahoma Watch is a nonprofit, nonpartisan journalism service that produces in-depth and investigative content on important public-policy issues facing the state. For more Oklahoma Watch content, go to www.oklahomawatch.org.

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