Health Lab Supportive Release Center

Mental health in the nation’s jail and prison systems is a persistent and difficult challenge. Between 25 and 40 percent of all Americans with mental illness will be jailed or incarcerated in their lifetimes. This fact is especially powerful at Chicago’s Cook County Jail, where it is estimated that on any given day, up to one in three inmates suffers from mental illness.

The Health Lab, in partnership with Treatment Alternatives for Safe Communities, Heartland Health Outreach, and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office, is helping to design and create a “Supportive Release Center” (SRC). The SRC hopes to help individuals with mental illness transition to services in their communities following their release from the Cook County Jail. The SRC will offer a brief, overnight stay and linkages to community support services to detainees released from the jail who have a history of mental illness and behavioral health issues.

The Health Lab will conduct a randomized controlled trail to evaluate the impact of the center on health and criminal justice outcomes.