Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Collaboration for offender reintegration

A study explored collaborative practices between mental health and correctional services (CSs) in Norway. It worked to build a pedagogical context for better collaboration.
Collaboration for offender reintegration
To help reintegrate offenders back into society, offender rehabilitation is a key strategy that CSs use. Working together with mental health services (MHSs), CS professionals seek to improve the mental health of offenders so that they can hopefully remain crime free. However, a lot of improvement is needed in knowing how to boost this collaboration.

With this in mind, the EU-funded COLLABORATION (Reducing the burden of offender mental illness in Europe: Improving interorganisational collaboration between the mental health and criminal justice systems) project identified and described factors underpinning collaborative practices between MHS and criminal justice services (CJSs) in Norway. The team conducted interviews with leaders of both systems to explore perspectives on collaboration.

Collaborative practice of rehabilitation and reintegration was evident, as were the tools of communication between the two systems. It revealed areas where conflicts arose within different interpretations of patient confidentiality and threshold levels for transfer of offenders from prisons into specialist mental health facilities. Failure to take responsibility for offenders as expected is caused by resource limitations, logistical issues and poor attitudes towards the offender population. The findings suggest that MHS and CS personnel need more knowledge of the roles and responsibilities involved in collaborative practice.

COLLABORATION also evaluated levels of interorganisational integration and collaborative practice between the two systems. The team administered a questionnaire to prison officers in four regions in Norway. Results showed low levels of relational coordination between prison officers and psychologists and psychiatrists in specialised MHSs. However, prison officers demonstrated the highest level of relational coordination with nurses, social workers and other prison officers working in the same prison.

Researchers made recommendations for prison leaders to schedule more formal meetings with specialist MHSs and that these meetings should include both front-line prison officers and leaders in their membership. They further suggested that the meetings emphasise the importance of the rehabilitation process.

The development of an evidence-based pedagogical framework helped prepare professionals and service leaders of both systems for collaborative practice. Consideration was also placed on the required collaborative competencies in the workforce to address current and future population health and welfare needs. Researchers took an integrated approach to tie competencies to social innovation and integration competence frameworks where collaboration is necessary.

Results commenced with a community formed to support and develop research, education and practice where MHSs/CJSs and related fields intersect. The study offers a clear strategy with which to promote integrated care for mentally ill offenders.

Related information


Collaboration, collaborative practices, mental health, correctional services, rehabilitation
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