Jail Diversion Final Report

Executive Summary

The Shelby County jail diversion project provided a successful strategy for identifying and developing appropriate diversion plans outlining linkage to necessary community treatment services and resources. Through a collaborative planning process with criminal justice and community stakeholders, individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use problems were diverted from the criminal justice system and into community-based treatment services. Implementation of the diversionary process and evidence-based integrated treatment services were funded through a Center for Mental Health Services (CMHS) grant from June 1, 2003 to May 31, 2007. Foundations Associates, a leading behavioral healthcare provider of evidence-based treatment services for individuals with co-occurring disorders, provided integrated treatment services combined with best practice approaches for criminal justice involved populations.

Diversion program participants were enrolled in grant-funded services and offered the opportunity to participate in a longitudinal evaluation of diversion program services from February 2004 through May 2007. The purpose of this evaluation report is to document and describe project findings and results. A brief background and purpose of the jail diversion project is followed by a detailed description of project services. A chronological summary of project activities includes brief highlights for each year of grant funded services. The remaining sections detail evaluation protocols and results, including an overall conclusion of evaluation findings. Key highlights from this evaluation report include the following:

  • 128 individuals with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders were successfully diverted from February 2004 to October 2006 and were eligible for at least one follow-up by the end of grant-funded services. Overall, 149 individuals were diverted from February 2004 through May 2007.
  • Of the 220 potential candidates who were screened for the diversion program, 60 did not meet criteria based on detailed assessment and roundtable review process. An additional 32 candidates met initial screening criteria but did not complete the community linkage planning process for presentation to the courts due to various legal reasons (case disposed/dismissed, unable to split co-defendant case, additional charges) prior to presentation (44%). Other reasons included release (24%), psychiatric criteria (17%), refused (12%), and referred elsewhere (3%).
  • There were no significant differences between diversion candidates accepted to the program and those who were not accepted based on general characteristics including age, gender, or race.
  • Of those who were successfully diverted, 62% completed 6-8 weeks of community-based intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) services which utilized evidence-based integrated treatment services.
  • Diversion program participants who completed community based treatment services were significantly less likely to return to the criminal justice system 6 months and 12 months following diversion when controlling for other potentially significant predictors of recidivism.
  • Overall, substance use declined from 81% at baseline to 30% at 6 months and 27% at 12 months, including similar patterns of improved outcomes for those reporting initial drug use, alcohol use, and alcohol use to intoxication.
  • Mental health symptoms (frequency and severity) and daily functioning outcome measures improved similarly from baseline to 6-months with improvements maintained at 12-months

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