Publication date: Sep 18, 2023
The COVID-19 pandemic inspired calls for rapid decarceration of prisons and jails to slow the spread of disease in a high-risk congregate setting. Due to the rarity of intentionally-decarcerative policies, little is known about the effects of rapid decarceration on individuals with serious mental illness (SMI) substance use disorder (SUD), a population who receive many services via the criminal legal system (CLS). We conducted interviews with 13 key informants involved in CLS in San Francisco, CA to better understand the implication of the decarcerative policies put into practice in early 2020. Participants described a tension between the desire to have fewer people incarcerated and the challenges of accessing services and support – especially during the lockdown period of the pandemic – outside of the CLS given the number of services that are only accessible to those who have been arrested, incarcerated, or sentenced. These findings emphasize the need for investing in community social services rather than further expanding the CLS to achieve the goal of supporting individuals with SMI and SUD shrinking the US system of mass incarceration.
|disease||MESH||substance use disorder|