CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – According to the National Institute of Corrections, the Hampden County Correctional Facility in Ludlow has one of the lowest rates of convicted criminals reoffending.

Correctional facilities and prisons house a disproportionate number of offenders who are coping with both mental health and substance use disorders, which in turn makes these facilities some of the country’s largest providers of mental health care.

According to the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, for the past 50 years, the United States has relied on incarceration, rather than addressing many of the root causes underlying criminal activity, and this policy choice has caused an uptick in incarcerated individuals.

The pandemic only inflamed the issue. 22News spoke with the Public Information Officer of the Hampden County Correctional Facility who says that the pandemic caused a drastic jump in individuals dealing with mental health and substance use disorders.

“People come in, we assess where they are and what are the factors that lead them to commit whatever the crime was that led them to this place, and we address the key factors, not just the symptoms. So if someone has addiction-related issues and that’s at the heart of what their issue was that brought them to us in the first place, that’s what we work on,” said Robert Rizzuto, a Senior Public Information Officer of the Hampden County Correctional Facility.

More than one-third of inmates are diagnosed with a mental disorder prior to incarceration. In an effort to bridge the gap and address those issues, the Hampden County Correctional Facility offers a variety of services, such as individual and group counseling, medication-assisted treatment for specific addictions, and overall offer a supportive space.

They take a holistic approach, one that addresses the whole individual to ensure people are going back into the community healthier and better equipped for success and recovery.