We collaborate to support our mutual
clients, such as someone who doesn’t have
any identification or a healthcare account
and social isolation. The centre is alsopart of two programs trying to stop therevolving door clients go through.
One is Alberta Justice’s PriorityProlific Offender Program, or P-POP. Itworks with people who have multiplenuisance offences—shoplifting, theftfrom vehicles, aggressive panhandling,urinating in public—but haven’ttypically caused bodily harm to others.Many are addicted to alcohol or drugs,have poor mental health or come fromdifficult backgrounds. A diverse teamworks to keep them from getting intomore legal trouble.
“We collaborate to support our mutual
clients, such as someone who doesn’t
have any identification or a healthcare
account,” Mosaico explains. “These
people are the highest users of the justice
system. It might be someone who steals
to pay for their drug habit.”
Centre staff work to find clients
housing, legal assistance, food,
clothing and more. “Sometimes, we
can address some of the root causes—
abuse, for example. I can write a letter
documenting untreated abuse issues,
advocating for funding so that client can
see a psychologist.”
The centre also works with AHS’s
Corrections Transition Team, a voluntary
program that supports people with
mental illness and addiction who are
about to be released from a corrections
centre into the community.
Typically, Mosaico says, the healthcare
system and correctional services have
little contact. “Someone would be
released from jail without adequate
medications, housing or clothes. He has
no work, a criminal record and nowhere
to live. It takes a while to save up for rent
and a damage deposit. Without support,
he’ll relapse quickly and end up back in
“We work with the Corrections
Transition Team so that, ideally, we pick
up the clients the day they get out of jail.
As well as looking after their healthcare
needs, we get them warm clothing so
they don’t get frostbite. We write letters
to Human Services, asking for money for
damage deposit and first month’s rent,”
The centre also works with clientswith addictions to help reduce theirrisk of reoffending while awaiting morespecialized treatment and support.
“With this program we see less relapseinto destructive behaviour.”
Addiction is a brain disease that is morelikely to affect people who have had threeor more adverse childhood experiences.
“Addicts are ostracized, shamed and
they’re told they’re bad people, and
when they try to treat their pain, we jail
them,” said Dr. Gabor Mate, a Canadian
physician and author specializing in
addictions, in an interview with CBC
Radio. “We traumatize them further by
sticking them in jail.”
Treating addiction as a brain disease
removes the notion that it’s somehow a
conscious choice, adds Flatters.
“If you see addiction as a choice, youpunish people. But if you see it as adisease—you wouldn’t punish someonefor having cancer or diabetes—yourespond like you would to any otherdisease: what’s the plan, what if there’sa relapse?” she says. “And you provideeffective, efficient and responsiveintervention very early to break thoseintergenerational cycles of addiction.”
In his Calgary courtroom in the fall of2014, Carruthers weighed the science-based evidence about toxic stress andearly brain development as he decidedwhether to return a baby girl to hermentally ill, homeless mother.
In his judgment he drew on expertevidence from Evelyn Wotherspoon,a clinical social worker and earlychildhood mental health consultant.“The child,” Carruthers wrote, “is in aperiod of exuberant brain growth. She isvulnerable to disruptions in that growththrough exposure to toxic stress.”
Adoption, he decided, was in thebaby’s best interests.|a
With this program we
see less relapse into