The Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office was recently awarded a $1.6 million federal grant for the Tulsa County Collaborative Jail Reentry Initiative, which aims to connect defendants struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues with resources both while they are in jail and after they are released.
The grant is part of a collaboration between the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office and Family & Children’s Services. It will fund multiple positions between the two offices, which will work together to identify diversion candidates early in the court process. The goal is to reduce Tulsa County’s high substance use and overdose rates.
There will be two new positions within the district attorney’s office, a bond docket prosecutor and a data analyst, who will focus on collecting information to understand how the program works.
“Data shows Tulsa County’s overdose rate is more than twice the combined state rate,” said Tulsa County District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler. “We know that drug addiction fuels a broad cross-section of crime in our community. If we can intercept substance abuse at its earliest stages, we will likely see a reduction in criminal recidivism.”
Family & Children’s Services will be able to fund four new positions. Those include a peer recovery support specialist, a pre-release case manager, a post-release case manager and a therapist. The goal is to identify and support underserved inmates in jail and provide them with the resources they need to receive successful treatment both in and out of jail. Case managers will help defendants get to appointments and keep up with the progress of their cases once they are released.
“We are thrilled to have yet another opportunity to partner with the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office and David L. Moss Tulsa County Jail on a newly awarded BJA grant to help connect individuals to mental health and substance abuse treatment services,” said Jill Young, chief program officer of Adult Outpatient Services at Family & Children’s Services. “Our hope is to positively impact reincarceration rates by developing therapeutic relationships with individuals while incarcerated, following them into the community post-release and connecting them to mental health and substance abuse treatment services.”
This new initiative is another way the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office is working to improve diversion programs in recent years. The district attorney’s office and the Tulsa County District Court launched a Misdemeanor Diversion Program in May 2021, serving individuals jailed for low-level offenses tied to mental illness and substance abuse. These programs aim to reduce the crime rate in Tulsa County.
This award comes from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Comprehensive Opioid Stimulant and Substance Abuse Program grant.