Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Dot gov

The .gov means it’s official.
Federal government websites often end in .gov or .mil. Before sharing sensitive information, make sure you’re on a federal government site.


The site is secure.
The https:// ensures that you are connecting to the official website and that any information you provide is encrypted and transmitted securely.


Publication Date

People with behavioral health conditions such as serious mental illness (SMI) and substance use disorders (SUDs), including opioid use disorder (OUD), are 3-6 times more likely than the general population to be represented in the criminal justice system. Even though the majority of incarcerated people with behavioral health diagnoses have not committed any violent crime, they may end up in jail as a consequence of both poverty and their behavioral health disorders. As a result without coordinated intervention, some people with behavioral health diagnoses risk cycling in and out of the mental health, substance use, and criminal justice systems. This cycling between systems, in and out of services, is both unconducive to recovery and costly to society.

Most research to date has been on interventions for people following arrest. These interventions include post-arrest diversion, drug and mental health courts, prison or jail treatment services, re-entry programs, and community supervision. With limited public resources and increasing numbers of people with behavioral health disorders entering criminal justice systems, jurisdictions have looked to develop alternatives to arrest and incarceration. The predominant conceptual framework for jail diversion and the interactions between community service providers and the criminal justice system is the Sequential Intercept Model (SIM). The SIM outlines the points, or intercepts, along the criminal justice continuum where there are potential interventions to divert people away from the criminal justice system.

This report was prepared under contract #HHSP233201600010I between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy (DALTCP) and Abt Associates. For additional information about this subject, you can visit the DALTCP home page at or contact the ASPE Project Officers, Jhamirah Howard and Laurel Fuller, at HHS/ASPE/DALTCP, Room 424E, H.H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201;

DISCLAIMER: The opinions and views expressed in this report are those of the authors. They do not reflect the views of the Department of Health and Human Services, the contractor or any other funding organization. This report was completed and submitted on November 9, 2018.