Skip to main content

Probation Officers’ and Supervisors’ Perspectives on Critical Resources for Implementing Specialty Mental Health Probation

Abstract

This paper presents the results of a qualitative study designed to explore and identify the resources that probation officers need to implement specialized mental health probation caseloads, a promising practice that enhances mental health treatment engagement and reduces recidivism among people with mental illnesses. Our research team conducted a directed content analysis guided by the Practical, Robust Implementation and Sustainability Model (PRISM) to analyze qualitative interviews with 16 specialty mental health probation officers and their supervising chiefs. Results indicated five components and resources related to multiple PRISM constructs: (1) meaningfully reduced caseload sizes (intervention design), (2) officers’ ability to build rapport and individualize probation (organizational staff characteristics), (3) specialized training that is offered regularly (implementation and sustainability infrastructure), (4) regular case staffing and consultation (implementation and sustainability infrastructure), and (5) communication and collaboration with community-based providers (external environment). Agencies implementing specialized mental health probation approaches should pay particular attention to selecting officers and chiefs and establishing the infrastructure to implement and sustain specialty mental health probation.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1

Data Availability

The qualitative data generated and analyzed in this study are not publicly available because study participants voluntarily participated under the agreement that their data would be anonymized. Full interview transcripts, though de-identified, may still permit individuals to be identified due to the provision of other details including work place, years of service, and participation in specific training. Excerpts of qualitative data are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

References

  • Aarons, G. A., Hurlburt, M., & Horwitz, S. M. (2011). Advancing a conceptual model of evidence-based practice implementation in public service sectors. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 38(1), 4–23.

  • Becan, J. E., Fisher, J. H., Johnson, I. D., Bartkowski, J. P., Seaver, R., Gardner, S. K., et al. (2020). Improving substance use services for juvenile justice-involved youth: Complexity of process improvement plans in a large scale multi-site study. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-019-01007-z.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Belenko, S., Knight, D., Wasserman, G. A., Dennis, M. L., Wiley, T., Taxman, F. S., et al. (2017). The juvenile justice behavioral health services cascade: A new framework for measuring unmet substance use treatment services needs among adolescent offenders. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 74, 80–91. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2016.12.012.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Birken, S. A., Lee, S. D., Weiner, B. J., Chin, M. H., & Schaefer, C. T. (2012). Improving the effectiveness of health care innovation implementation. Medical Care Research and Review, 70(1), 29–45. https://doi.org/10.1177/1077558712457427.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Bowser, D., Henry, B. F., Wasserman, G. A., Knight, D., Gardner, S., Krupka, K., et al. (2018). Comparison of the overlap between juvenile justice processing and behavioral health screening, assessment and referral. Journal of Applied Juvenile Justice Services, 2018, 97–125.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Compton, M. T., Bahora, M., Watson, A. C., & Oliva, J. R. (2008). A comprehensive review of extant research on crisis intervention team (CIT) programs. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law Online, 36(1), 47–55.

    Google Scholar 

  • Council of State Governments. (2002). Criminal justice/mental health consensus project. New York: Council of State Governments.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  • Crilly, J. F., Caine, E. D., Lamberti, J. S., Brown, T., & Friedman, B. (2009). Mental health services use and symptom prevalence in a cohort of adults on probation. Psychiatric Services, 60(4), 542–544. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.60.4.542.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Curran, G. M., Bauer, M., Mittman, B., Pynt, J., & Stetler, C. (2012). Effectiveness-implementation hybrid designs: Combining elements of clinical effectiveness and implementation research to enhance public health impact. Medical Care, 50(3), 217–226. https://doi.org/10.1097/mlr.0b013e3182408812.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Ditton, P. (1999). Mental health and the treatment of inmates and probationers. U.S: Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics. Washington, DC.

    Google Scholar 

  • Eno Louden, J., & Skeem, J. (2011). Parolees with mental disorder: Toward evidence-based practice. Bulletin of the Center for Evidence-Based Corrections, 7(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10979-010-9223-7.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eno Louden, J., Skeem, J. L., Camp, J., & Christensen, E. (2008). Supervising probationers with mental disorder: How do agencies respond to violations? Criminal Justice and Behavior, 35(7), 832–847.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Eno Louden, J., Skeem, J. L., Camp, J., Vidal, S., & Peterson, J. (2012). Supervision practices in specialty mental health probation: What happens in officer-probationer meetings? Law and Human Behavior, 36, 109–119. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0093961.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Feldstein, A. C., & Glasgow, R. E. (2008). A Practical, Robust, Implementation and Sustainability Model (PRISM) for integrating research findings into practice. The Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety., 34(4), 228–243.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Friedmann, P. D., Wilson, D., Knudsen, H., Ducharme, L., Welsh, W., Frisman, L., et al. (2015). Effect of an organizational linkage intervention on staff perceptions of medication-assisted treatment and referral intentions in community corrections. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 50, 50–58. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsat.2014.10.001.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Ghezzi, M., Van Deinse, T. B., Crable, E. L., Cuddeback, G. S., Buck, K., Brewer, M., et al. (2020). Adapting a clinical case consultation model to enhance capacity of specialty mental health probation officers. Perspectives, 44(2), 40–49.

  • Hsieh, H., & Shannon, S. E. (2005). Three approaches to qualitative content analysis. Qualitative Health Research, 15(9), 1277–1288.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kennealy, P. J., Skeem, J. L., Manchak, S. M., & Eno Louden, J. (2012). Firm, fair, and caring officer–offender relationships protect against supervision failure. Law and Human Behavior, 36, 496–505. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0093935.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Kitchener, B. A., & Jorm, A. F. (2002). Mental health first aid training for the public: Evaluation of effects on knowledge, attitudes and helping behavior. BMC Psychiatry, 2(1), 10.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Kitchener, B. A., & Jorm, A. F. (2006). Mental health first aid training: review of evaluation studies. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 40(1), 6–8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Knight, D. K., Belenko, S., Wiley, T., Robertson, A. A., Arrigona, N., Dennis, M., et al. (2016). Juvenile Justice—Translational research on interventions for adolescents in the legal system (JJ-TRIALS): A cluster randomized trial targeting system-wide improvement in substance use services. Implementation Science, 11, 57. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13012-016-0423-5.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Manchak, S. M., Skeem, J. L., Kennealy, P. J., & Eno Louden, J. (2014). High-fidelity specialty mental health probation improves officer practices, treatment access, and rule compliance. Law and Human Behavior, 38(5), 450. https://doi.org/10.1037/lhb0000076.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Martino, S., Carroll, K., Kostas, D., Perkins, J., & Rounsaville, B. (2002). Dual diagnosis motivational interviewing: A modification of motivational interviewing for substance-abusing patients with psychotic disorders. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 23(4), 297–308.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • McGrath, R. J., Cumming, G., & Holt, J. (2002). Collaboration among sex offender treatment providers and probation and parole officers: The beliefs and behaviors of treatment providers. Sexual Abuse: A Journal of Research and Treatment, 14(1), 49–65.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Monico, L. B., Mitchell, S. G., Welsh, W., Link, N., Hamilton, L., Redden, S. M., et al. (2016). Developing effective interorganizational relationships between community corrections and community treatment providers. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 55(7), 484–501. https://doi.org/10.1080/10509674.2016.1218401.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • O’Brien, B. C., Harris, I. B., Beckman, T. J., Reed, D. A., & Cook, D. A. (2014). Standards for reporting qualitative research: A synthesis of recommendations. Academic Medicine, 89(9), 1245–1251.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Porporino, F. J., & Motiuk, L. L. (1995). The prison careers of mentally disordered offenders. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 18(1), 29–44. https://doi.org/10.1016/0160-2527(94)00025-5.

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • QSR International Pty Ltd. (2018). NVivo qualitative data analysis software, Version 12.

  • Skeem, J. L., Emke-Francis, P., & Eno Louden, J. (2006). Probation, mental health, and mandated treatment a national survey. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 33(2), 158–184. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854805284420.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Skeem, J. L., & Eno Louden, J. (2006). Toward evidence-based practice for probationers and parolees mandated to mental health treatment. Psychiatric Services, 57(3), 333–342. https://doi.org/10.1176/appi.ps.57.3.333.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Skeem, J. L., Manchak, S., & Montoya, L. (2017). Comparing public safety outcomes for traditional probation vs specialty mental health probation. JAMA Psychiatry, 74(9), 942–948. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.1384.

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  • Skeem, J. L., Eno Louden, J., Polaschek, D., & Camp, J. (2007a). Assessing relationship quality in mandated community treatment: Blending care with control. Psychological Assessment, 19, 397–410. https://doi.org/10.1037/1040-3590.19.4.397.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Skeem, J., Eno Louden, J., Polasheck, D., & Camp, J. (2007b). Assessing relationship quality in mandated community treatment: Blending care with control. Psychological Assessment, 19(4), 397–410.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Skeem, J. L., & Petrila, J. (2004). Problem-solving supervision: Specialty probation for individuals with mental illness. Court Review, 40, 8–15.

    Google Scholar 

  • Steadman, H. J. (1992). Boundary spanners: A key component for the effective interactions of the justice and mental health systems. Law and Human Behavior, 16, 75–87. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02351050.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Deinse, T. B., Bunger, A., Burgin, S., Wilson, A. B., & Cuddeback, G. S. (2019). Using the consolidated framework for implementation research to examine implementation determinants of specialty mental health probation. Health and Justice, 7(1), 17.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Deinse, T. B., Cuddeback, G. S., Wilson, A. B., & Burgin, S. E. (2017). Probation officers’ perceptions of supervising probationers with mental illness in rural and urban settings. American Journal of Criminal Justice, 43(2), 267–277. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12103-017-9392-8.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Van Deinse, T. B., Cuddeback, G. S., Wilson, A. B., Lambert, M., & Edwards, D. (2018). Using statewide administrative data and brief mental health screening to estimate the prevalence of mental illness among probationers. Probation Journal, 66(2), 236–247. https://doi.org/10.1177/0264550518808369.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Welsh, W. N., Knudsen, H. K., Knight, K., Ducharme, L., Pankow, J., Urbine, T., et al. (2016a). Effects of an organizational linkage intervention on inter-organizational service coordination between probation/parole agencies and community treatment providers. Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Services Research, 43, 105–121. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-014-0623-8.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Welsh, W. N., Prendergast, M., Knight, K., Knudsen, H., Monico, L., Gray, J., et al. (2016b). Correlates of interorganizational service coordination in community corrections. Criminal Justice and Behavior, 43(4), 483–505. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093854815607306.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  • Wolff, N., Epperson, M., Shi, J., Huening, J., Schumann, B. E., & Sullivan, I. R. (2014). Mental health specialized probation caseloads: Are they effective? International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 37, 464–472. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijlp.2014.02.019.

    Article  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to acknowledge Stacey Burgin, Alex Lombardi, Alina Mason, and Reah Siegel for assistance with data collection and analysis.

Funding

This qualitative study was funded by the Fahs Beck Fund for Research and Experimentation. The parent study was funded by the Bureau of Justice Assistance (2015-SM-BX-0004). In addition, the first and second authors are supported by the Lifespan/Brown Criminal Justice Research Training Program.

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Tonya B. Van Deinse.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Van Deinse, T.B., Crable, E.L., Dunn, C. et al. Probation Officers’ and Supervisors’ Perspectives on Critical Resources for Implementing Specialty Mental Health Probation. Adm Policy Ment Health 48, 408–419 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-020-01081-8

Download citation

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10488-020-01081-8

Keywords