Centre County hopes for Second Chance grant

The Centre County Criminal Justice Advisory Board threw its support behind the county office of Mental Health/Intellectual Disability/Early Intervention/Drug and Alcohol in its application for a Second Chance Act grant for the the county.

The memorandum of understanding was signed Friday by advisory board Chairman Judge Bradley P. Lunsford and acts as a statement on behalf of the board to support the activities of the MH/ID/EI/DA office and committing to care for affected prisoners once they are released, Lunsford said.

The Second Chance Act provides resources for former inmates re-entering society.

The $600,000 grant would provide funding for two years to hire two case managers who would work with individuals who have co-existing drug and mental diagnoses released from county prisons, Administrator Tom McDermott said. Money would also be set aside for services until these individuals beome eligible for medical assistance.

“If someone receives outpatient services when in jail, we want them to carry on that service on the outside,” he said. “When service lapses, it can be difficult to get back into treatment.”

Second Chance grants are very competitive, he said. The county will know if the grant has been awarded by the end of summer. This is also a program the office is looking to sustain beyond the initial two years and is seeking funding options for that period.

“This initiative is important because it will help us to reduce recidivism and improve after-care efforts including continued mental health treatment,” Lunsford said in an email. “This is part of a broader effort to enhance services in our county prison with the goal of promoting public safety through a reduction in recidivism.”

MH/ID/EI/DA is a collection of agencies working together to identify, evaluate and treat individuals with mental or substance abuse issues. The advisory board is composed of law enforcement and community agencies involved in the administration of justice in the county.