Jails are the new state asylums, according to URMC psychiatry professor Dr. Steven Lamberti. It's why he and psychologist Dr. Robert Weisman spent 18 years on their research.
"Usually when someone with a mental illness ends up in jail, they kind of vanish as far as mental health providers are concerned," Weisman said.
Since 1995, Lamberti and Weisman have worked on the R-Fact treatment model. It's a way to keep mentally ill people from going around the revolving door of the prison system.
For the past three years, they have studied seventy mentally ill people in Rochester. Weisman has been in the trenches with these folks, making up to six home visits a week.
"If I have a wounded leg, I know because it hurts, but if I have a mental health impairment, I may not know until it's too late that I have a problem," said Weisman.
Right now, people have to deal with separate agencies for medical assistance, housing, and drug treatment. Under the R-Fact model, the mental health and criminal justice systems will work as one unit.
"Judges will then give patients a mobile treatment team that will bring them medications, food, clothing, housing. Bring the care to them," said Lamberti.
Preliminary results of those undergoing this treatment plan show a significant decrease in jail and hospital stays.
In May, they will receive the final results and if it worked, they can sell the URMC standardized model nationwide.
Until then, there are small victories, which for many people aren't so small.
"We take people who have limited supports, essentially caged and give them tools to live a stable and quality life."