Michigan was one of the first states to feel the effects of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. This exploratory, mixed-methods study describes 20 county jails' responses to the pandemic across Michigan and presents a case study of one rural jail to examine changes in booking trends and behavioral health needs and services. Qualitatively, jails decreased their population at the outset of the pandemic via early releases, reconsideration of bond, and reductions in arrests. Quantitatively, the greatest prevalence of serious mental illness was found during the spring (initial shutdown period), which had the lowest weekly booking rates. Significant differences were found when comparing charge severity and charge type between study periods. Bookings occurring during the spring were significantly related to felony charges and drug/alcohol charges while individuals were less frequently booked because of violations. Past year recidivism significantly decreased from the winter to summer phase. Policy should mandate that jails screen for behavioral health problems and provide access to behavioral health services, while also expanding diversion opportunities during and after a pandemic. Innovations in continuity of care are critical for both behavioral and public health needs given the high risk for suicide, overdose, and viral spread after release from jail. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved).
County jails' responses to COVID-19
Practices, procedures, and provisions of behavioral health services