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February 2015 | Grants Newsletter

Illness, Incarceration, and a New Start

Treatment for Those in Trouble with the Law

An 18-year-old who abandoned her baby was struggling with mental illness and didn’t know where to turn. She was charged with felony abandonment. The Center for Alternative Sentencing and Employment Services (known as CASES) advocated for her transfer from Rikers Island to the agency’s new Harlem mental health clinic, opened last year with Trust funding. There, she gets treatment while she lives at home, studies for her high school equivalency, takes a parenting class, and visits her child under supervision.

HELP FOR THE COURT-INVOLVED: Two counselors train at CASES’ clinic in Harlem that’s supported by The Trust.
Like many CASES participants, she has a family history of sexual trauma, along with the determination to get her life back on track. The Trust’s new $70,000 grant is helping CASES open a satellite clinic in downtown Brooklyn. The agency is using part of the money to improve electronic record keeping and hire a data analyst so it can negotiate effectively with managed care companies.

CASES Chief Executive Joel Copperman was part of a task force that helped develop Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent $130 million pledge to address mental health treatment for those in jail. “This is a concerted effort to address the crisis of mental illness in the criminal justice system,” says Ann- Marie Louison, CASES’ director of adult behavioral health programs.

SUPPORT AFTER RELEASE: For those leaving Rikers Island prison with health and substance abuse issues, our recent $100,000 grant to Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn provides immediate help while enrolling them in longer-term care.

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