Frequently Asked Questions: A Look into Jail-Based Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions

FAQ: A Look into Jail-Based Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions

This fact sheet is a complement to Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions: Moving from Individual Programs to a Systems-Wide Strategy (see below), which talks about developing a community-wide diversion plan across the criminal justice continuum, but notes that communities will need to determine priorities based on their specific needs. In this publication, we answer some common questions from people who may want to invest in jail-based diversion, such as why set up this type of intervention, who can implement it, what are some common best practices, and where and what can people be diverted to?

May 2020 | The Council of State Governments Justice Center, Bureau of Justice Assistance

Recognizing that people with behavioral health needs are overrepresented in the criminal justice system, many communities have developed alternatives to incarceration that connect eligible people to community-based treatment and supports. All too often, however, these efforts have been limited to individual, or one-off, recognizable programs that are often insufficient in meeting the needs of the community and reducing this over-representation. To address this problem, the CSG Justice Center released a publication in 2019, Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions: Moving from Individual Programs to a Systems-Wide Strategy, which provides local leaders with a systems-level conceptual framework for developing a continuum of behavioral health diversion interventions that span the community’s criminal justice system—starting from first contact with law enforcement through incarceration.

However, these efforts must be prioritized based on each community’s specific needs. For some jurisdictions, this might mean investing in jail-based diversion or court-based diversion first. With that in mind, the CSG Justice Center also released two complementary fact sheets—A Look into Jail-Based Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions (above) and A Look into Court-Based Behavioral Health Diversion Interventions (below)—that answer common questions about the purpose of each type of intervention, what partners are needed to implement it, and what best practices are being used across the country.

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