Mental Health Step Down Program

Program Description The Mental Health Step Down Program (P5330.11, Chapter 6) is a residential treatment program offering an intermediate level of care for male and female inmates with serious mental illnesses. The program is specifically designed to serve inmates who do not require inpatient treatment but lack the skills to function in a general population prison setting. The program uses an integrative model that includes an emphasis on a modified therapeutic community cognitive behavioral therapies, and skills training. The goal of the Step Down Program is to provide evidence based treatment to chronically mentally ill inmates in order to maximize their ability to function and minimize relapse and the need for inpatient hospitalization.
Time Frame The Mental Health Step Down Program is conducted over 12-18 months. Inmates may participate in the program at any point in their sentence. Formal programming is facilitated half-days, five days a week with the remaining half-day dedicated to an institution work assignment or other programming, as participants are able.
Admission Criteria Inmates with serious mental illnesses, who would benefit from intensive residential treatment, are considered for the program. Male inmates with a primary diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder are referred to the STAGES Program, as opposed to the Mental Health Step Down Unit Program. Program participants must volunteer for the program and must not be acutely mentally ill (i.e., they must not meet the criteria for inpatient mental health treatment).
Program Content Mental Health Step Down Programs operate as modified therapeutic communities and utilize cognitive behavioral treatments, cognitive rehabilitation, and skills training. Criminal thinking is addressed through the identification of criminal thinking errors and engagement in pro-social interactions with staff and peers. The programs work closely with Psychiatry Services to ensure participants receive appropriate medication and have the opportunity to build a positive relationship with the treating psychiatrist. Program content is designed to promote successful reentry into society at the conclusion of their term of incarceration, and program staff collaborates with community partners to facilitate reentry.
Empirical Support The mental health interventions selected for this program have strong empirical support and appear in multiple evidence-based programs (EBPs) registries.
Applicable Policies 5330.11 Psychology Treatment Programs.
Institution Locations Mental Health Step Down Programs are available at the following facilities:

Mid-Atlantic Region South East Region
MH Step Down Unit
FCI Butner, NC-Medium
Secure MH Step Down Unit
USP Atlanta, GA-High