According to experts in the field, existing intervention programs across the country are already improve the results of interactions between police and people with autism.
Harvey Rosenthal, chief executive officer of the New York Association of Psychiatric and Rehabilitation Services, Inc. (NYAPRS), says Oregon’s crisis response program CAHOOTS is the example that should be followed in every state.
The program allows peers with behavioral health disorders to be part of the crisis response team in order to ensure people with these conditions receive appropriate treatment and support.
Rosenthal says there are three prongs that make up the CAHOOTS program. The first is diversion, or efforts to try to keep individuals with behavioral health disorders out of the prison system. If diversion isn’t possible, they offer rehabilitation and re-entry services.
Rosenthal said the key to re-entry is to ensure the individual has access to appropriate health care.
“It is crucial that each incarcerated individual who needs it has immediate access to Medicaid when they are released. This is to ensure they can continue their medications and care uninterrupted. This is not always the case. Very often they must wait for a month or more,” Rosenthal said.