Indiana To Address Brain Trauma Among Released Offenders

Oct 3, 2014

The Indiana Department of Correction is beginning a pilot program to screen released offenders for traumatic brain injuries and help provide treatment so they can successfully re-enter society.
Credit Larry Farr/morguefile

Some major money is flowing into the Indiana Department of Correction to address brain trauma. The department has been awarded a $1 million federal grant to screen and provide treatment for released offenders who have traumatic brain injuries. Edinburgh Correctional Facility Superintendent Frances Osburn is leading the project and says their goal is to minimize the risk of re-offending and ultimately help lower the state's incarceration costs.

"We're going to make them aware, because sometimes they may not even be aware that they have a brain injury and provide them with tools and treatment so they don't come back and, ultimately, employment," says Osburn.

An estimated 36 percent of offenders in Indiana corrections facilities have a traumatic brain injury, according to Osburn that's much higher than the seven percent average among those living in society. Experts say mild traumatic brain injury can cause temporary dysfunction of brain cells, while more serious cases can result in physical damage to the brain that can result in long-term complications or death.

Indiana is the second state in the nation to pilot this type of resource facilitation program and Osburn says it will start with educating those who work in the correctional system across the state.

"We're developing computer-based training modules for our correctional staff," she says. "They will receive this training on things to look for for traumatic brains. That's new; we've never had anything like that."

The program begins in November and will target those transferred to parole or Community Corrections in Allen and Marion counties. The four-year federal grant comes from the Department of Health and Human Services.