The meeting was hosted by a collaboration of the U. S. Department of Justice, the National Institute of Corrections, the Bureau of Justice Assistance, and the National Sheriffs Association. It included representatives from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration and the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
The All Sheriff’s Authority was developed to help address the challenges of the mental health crisis which has turned jails into the country’s largest de facto institutions for people suffering with mental illness, the majority of whom are also suffering from substance use disorders. Sheriff Clayton was chosen to be a member of the All Sheriff’s Authority which is made up of a select group of influential sheriffs from across the country.
Sheriff Clayton delivered a presentation on the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office Re-entry/Discharge Planning Initiative. Sheriff Clayton highlighted the fact that, despite being a community that values human services and having more access to resources than many Michigan counties, Washtenaw County has a recidivism rate of over 60%. This is one of the highest in the state and has gradually increased since 2010. Additionally, the large majority of individuals returning to the jail are low level misdemeanor offenders and probation violators with housing, employment, education or behavioral health challenges.
Sheriff Clayton said that the WCSO works with many of their community partners, targeting recidivism reduction through the development of a comprehensive Re-entry and Discharge Planning Program, a collaborative and systematic approach to successful offender reintegration, enhanced public safety and community wellness. Sheriff Clayton went on to state that the Re-entry Initiative operates based on a set of specific objectives and strategies developed and implemented by the WCSO/Community Partners Team. These objectives and strategies include: an Interdisciplinary team of community service providers and corrections staff working together to develop comprehensive discharge plans for all returning individuals, assessments and evidence based treatment programs, eliminating barriers to success, and identifying programs and collaborations to support individuals in the community as well as when they are in the jail, and working with community partners to strengthen community capacity to re-integrate people returning home. Sheriff Clayton noted that, hopefully, the WCSO Re-entry Initiative will result in a reduced number of individuals with behavioral health disorders either entering for the first time or returning to the justice system.