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From Recidivism to Recovery: The Case for Peer Support in Texas Correctional Facilities

In this paper, we explore the use of mental health peer support services as one way to support recovery, improve continuity of care, and reduce recidivism for inmates with mental illness during the re-entry process. We present a successful peer support re-entry program model, established in Pennsylvania, and offer preliminary suggestions for a Texas pilot project. We also offer policy recommendations that, if implemented, would broadly improve access to mental health services, ease re-entry transitions for inmates with mental illness, and enhance the viability of peer support re-entry programming. We intend for our recommendations to be a first step toward more extensive stakeholder discussion and research on this issue. It is our hope that this paper will catalyze conversation about the steps Texas must take to integrate recovery into its justice system and provide national policy leadership in a growing field at the pivotal intersection between mental health and criminal justice.