Impact of Jail Diversion on Individuals With Co-Occurring Mental Illness and substance Use

Pamela K. Lattimore, RTI International

There is a growing concern that large numbers of mentally ill individuals are filling the nation's jails and prisons following police encounters over minor violations, including public order offenses. Nine sites were funded by SAMHSA in 1997 to assess the outcomes associated with diverting from jail (to services and treatment) individuals with co-occurring serious mental illness (SMI) and substance abuse problems. This paper summarizes some of the main findings from a cross-site evaluation of 3- and 12-month outcomes in eight of the nine sites. (Data from the ninth site, which enrolled only a small number of diverted subjects and no comparison subjects, are not included in these analyses.) The underlying model of diversion is that diverted individuals are more likely than the non-diverted to (1) receive treatment services, (2) experience improved mental health, (3) reduce substance use, and (4) reduce criminal offending. Results of propensity-model based analyses test hypotheses related to each of these outcomes.

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Updated 05/20/2006