Performance Improvement 2013-2014. What Screening and Evaluation is Necessary to Divert Adults With Mental Illness From Jail to Community-Based Services and What are the Characteristics of Individuals Diverted?


The Substance and Mental Health Services Administration sponsored an evaluation of a Jail Diversion Program diverting adults with mental illness from jail to community.. The program was developed to improve policy and practice for addressing the needs of persons with mental illness or those with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders who became involved in the criminal justice system. The evaluation studied the jail diversion process, starting at referral rather than enrollment and examined the effect of jail diversion on public health and public safety outcomes. The evaluation focused on the extent of screening and evaluation necessary to divert candidates, best practices to reduce recidivism, substance abuse and improved recovery for adults with mental illness diverted to the community. The evaluation offered models for the development of successful, efficient, and impactful jail diversion programs in the future.

Three thousand five hundred ninety individuals were diverted from jail. Study participants were 37 years old on average. Fifty three percent were male and 47 percent were female. Forty five percent of participants identified as white, 39 percent as black/African American, 6 percent as Hispanic/Latino, 3 percent as American Indian, 2 percent as Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander, 1 percent as Alaskan Native, 1 percent as Asian, and 2 percent other race/ethnicities. Primary diagnoses included schizophrenia spectrum disorder (28 percent), bipolar disorder (27 percent), and 26 percent depressive disorder. The remaining participants had a primary diagnosis of posttraumatic stress disorder, substance use disorder, or an Axis II disorder. Experiences of physical and sexual abuse were nearly universal for all participants (92 percent), including 96 percent of the women and 89 percent of the men. Overall, the post-booking jail diversion sites achieved a 57 percent reduction in arrests and a 38 percent reduction in jail days in the 12 months after enrollment compared with the prior 12 months. Only half of the participants were arrested at all during the 12 months following enrollment.

Report Title: Evaluation of the CMHS Targeted Capacity Expansion Grants for Jail Diversion Programs
Agency Sponsor: SAMHSA, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Federal Contact: David Morrissette, 240-276-1912
Performer: Policy Research Associates, Inc
Record ID: 8890 (December 1, 2012) Safety

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"PerformanceImprovement2014.pdf" (pdf, 671.65Kb)

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