Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions: Moving from Individual Programs to a Systems-Wide Strategy

A growing number of communities have been implementing behavioral health diversion programs as alternatives to conventional criminal justice case processing and incarceration. However, these have often largely been kept to individual, or one-off, recognizable programs that are insufficient for meeting the needs of the community and reducing the over-representation of people who have behavioral health needs in the criminal justice system. The Council of State Governments Justice Center released Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions: Moving from Individual Programs to a Systems-Wide Strategy to provide communities across the country with a conceptual framework for creating a continuum of diversion opportunities that span the community’s criminal justice system.

Developed with funding support from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance, this policy brief describes key components to developing a systems-wide diversion strategy and focuses on the fundamental agencies within the criminal justice system that can lead the implementation of diversion interventions, with the goal of diverting people with mental illness from the justice system and into community-based treatment and support services. The brief was also prompted, and guided, through work with Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grantees.

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