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SAMHSA News - May/June 2008, Volume 16, Number 3

Administrator’s Message: Reducing Substance Use,
Reducing Recidivism

When individuals are given a chance to attain and sustain recovery from addiction and mental illnesses, the “revolving door” between incarceration and community can stop spinning.

SAMHSA’s juvenile justice and criminal justice programs are proof of that. One special program, the Young Offender Reentry Program (YORP) has helped hundreds of young people return to their communities and not end up back in jail or prison.

How does it work? The SAMHSA News cover story describes the work of two of our successful YORP grantees.

As an Agency, we continue to create collaborative relationships with judges, prosecutors, and public defenders, as well as treatment providers, researchers, and public policy decision-makers who are committed to making sure young people in the criminal justice system have a chance.

Our work together is critical. What we know is that addiction and mental illnesses, are treatable illnesses and prevention and treatment are effective.

When these services are targeted to juvenile offenders and adult offenders, the benefits are threefold.

First, if we prevent and treat addiction and mental illnesses, drug-related crimes will decrease.

Second, if we intervene early and get the appropriate treatment services in place, recidivism rates will drop.

And third, as SAMHSA increases recovery support services, success rates for reentry into the community also increase. In addition, public safety is enhanced.

We are continuing our efforts to strengthen partnerships with groups like the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, the American Correctional Association, the Association of State Correctional Administrators, the National District Attorneys Association, the National Governors Association, and many others.

SAMHSA also continues to build and collaborate with drug courts and mental health courts across the country.

Innovative treatment and support services make a difference for ex-offenders with mental and substance use disorders.

The opportunity for partnership, meaningful change, and building a healthier Nation has never been stronger. Our young people deserve a chance for a life in the community. SAMHSA is making that a real possibility.

Terry L. Cline, Ph.D.
Administrator, SAMHSA

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