Internship Spotlight: Eleni Christofides

Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services

Eleni ChristofidesMy internship through the CJRC has been a wonderful experience. Last semester I began working as a research intern for the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, where I’m assisting with the evaluation for the Community Transition Program (CTP). This is a state initiative to improve the continuity of care for inmates who need help with mental health and substance use disorders: by increasing the access and quality of treatment both in prisons and in the community once inmates are released, the program should improve Ohio recidivism rates.

I have learned so much about the criminal justice system and the importance of good research in creating policy changes through my internship. I’ve had the opportunity to visit correctional facilities and learn about the treatments used there, both for substance use disorders and to address criminal thinking errors. As a Psychology major with minors in Neuroscience and Criminology, I’m very interested in the psychopharmacology of drug addiction, as well as the factors that relate to criminality. This internship has also given me very valuable and practical experience when it comes to the human side of criminal justice, mental health, and substance abuse. While visiting correctional facilities, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to staff about the problems they face trying to create effective treatment programs with limited resources, as well as to inmates about the difficulties in adapting to treatment and the fear of losing their families and struggling to get back on their feet once they leave prison.

I’ve also learned a great deal about the fundamentals of research design and data collection: no matter where I go and the future career I pursue, understanding how to create quality applied research and how to interpret results is essential to improving government policies and addressing the needs of the community.

I plan on attending law school after I complete my undergraduate degree and specializing in criminal and civil rights law. I also intend to practice law in Ohio, so this internship was invaluable for me to learn about the way state agencies deal with criminal justice, and what is effective. As a future prosecuting attorney, for example, I will understand the needs of low-level drug offenders and how the state may help them without using prosecution and incarceration. This internship has given me an early understanding of how I can help to improve the criminal justice system.