The Big Shift: Can the Community Manage Risk?


The Big Shift: Can the Community Manage Risk?

By Joseph A. Grillo, PsyD. (Licensed Clinical Psychologist-Forensics)

As many of us in the clinical and forensic community know, financial pressures have resulted in inmates and psychiatric patients being released to the community (early). Additionally, similar individuals may be "diverted” from these placements (while still being at risk to themselves or others) under the guise that they do not meet the standard to be held. So where do such individuals end up residing? One place is the community mental health system (residential and non-residential). The question now becomes, "Is the community ready to absorb these populations?” Are institutions being "open” when transitioning individuals into the community, or may they "hold back information” so that folks can get placed in a timely manner?

The receiving site, may find themselves in a difficult situation. Specifically, they may have accepted an individual who was at "higher risk,” whom they would have not accepted at all if they had been fully informed, or if they knew helpful questions to ask.

One way to deal with this can involve what I call "institutional profiling” where a receiving facility knows the sending institution (forensic or clinical) as well as the parties that are making the referral. Knowing that current financial stress may exist, they can develop questions with this in mind to protect themselves from finding themselves in a game of "Hot Potato” where risk has been shifted to their agency. I will be addressing this further in later Blogs. I look forward to hearing about experiences that folks may be having in their geographic areas.



Dr. Grillo