Forensics: Conditional Release Program (CONREP)

What is the CONREP Program?

Program Overview

The Forensic Conditional Release Program (CONREP) is the Department of State Hospital’s (DSH) statewide system of community-based mental health treatment services for specified court-ordered forensic individuals. Mandated as a state responsibility by the Governor's Mental Health Initiative of 1984, the program began operations on January 1, 1986 and operates pursuant to statutes in Welfare and Institutions Code [WIC] Section 4360 (a) & (b).  The goal of CONREP is to ensure greater public protection in California communities via an effective and standardized community outpatient treatment system.

Who are CONREP Individuals?

The CONREP population includes: Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity (PC1026), Mentally Disordered Offenders (both PC 2964 parolees who have served a prison sentence and PC 2972 who are civilly committed for at least one year after their parole period ends), felony Incompetent to Stand Trial (PC 1370, court approved outpatient placement in lieu of state hospital placement), Mentally Disordered Sex Offenders (MDSOs) (WIC 6316), and Sexually Violent Predators (SVPs) (WIC 6604).

CONREP individuals are typically young males (77% are 18-44 years old) with severe mental disorders (66%) who have committed violent felonies (85%). They have moderate arrest histories (5.5 average prior arrests) and most (885) have entered from state hospitals. Many are well known to local mental health providers in their home counties, having been in and out of treatment for years.

What Services Does CONREP Provide?

Most individuals in the CONREP program have experienced lengthy state hospitalizations. Once psychiatric symptoms have been stabilized and they are considered no longer to be a danger, the state hospital medical director recommends eligible inpatients to the courts for outpatient treatment under CONREP. Individuals must agree to follow a treatment plan designed by the outpatient supervisor and approved by the committing court. As specified in California Penal Code Sections 1600-1615 and 2960-2972 the CONREP Community Program Director, with the approval of local courts (or, in the case of MDOs, the Board of Prison Hearings), controls the movements of cases within the above legal categories from state hospitals to community outpatient settings.

The court-approved treatment plan includes provisions for involuntary outpatient services. In order to protect the public, individuals who do not comply with treatment may be returned, upon court approval, to inpatient status. 

CONREP individuals have direct access to an array of mental health services during their period of outpatient treatment. These services include individual and group therapies, collateral contacts (e.g., other individuals/ agencies), home visits, substance abuse screenings and psychological assessments. The DSH has developed performance standards for these services which set minimum treatment and supervision levels for individuals court-ordered to CONREP. Evaluations and assessments are done during the period of state hospitalization, upon entry into the community and throughout CONREP treatment.

What is the need for this Service System?

Research has shown that 27% of a sample of persons released from state hospitals without going to CONREP re-offend within 2 years. CONREP individuals have a very low level of re-offense (6%). Additionally, CONREP individuals demonstrate significant improvement in employment, social support and independence ratings after one year of CONREP community treatment. Finally, CONREP individuals demonstrate very low levels of substance abuse while in the program.
These positive results are possible because CONREP invests community programs with greater authority and specialized resources to implement a comprehensive community outpatient system of assessment, treatment and supervision services.

How is the CONREP Program Administered?

The state budget provides 100% of the funding for CONREP's intensive level of assessment, treatment and supervision. The DSH contracts with county mental health programs and private agencies to provide relevant cost-effective services.

CONREP operates as a caseload-funded system. Contracts are based and funded on an anticipated annual program caseload and mandated performance standards (see above) which assures that funds are fairly distributed and will not diminish over the years.