Diversion Vs In-Jail Services: Enhancing Surveillance?

Amy Blank, University of Pennsylvania
Jeffrey Draine, University of Pennsylvania

BACKGROUND: This paper examines the jail incarceration rates for clients with co-occurring serious mental illness and substance use disorders. Clients were recruited from two mental health services in adjoining counties. One program diverts people from jail to community services and the other provides in-jail behavioral health service. To what extent are these different service strategies linked to increased chance of arrest in the future?

METHODS: Data from a quasi-experimental study of these service strategies were analyzed to explain the probability of arrest at three months following police contact.

RESULTS: Of 107 participants, 20 were arrested by the three-month interview. Results of a complimentary log-log analysis of the probability of arrest at three months showed that being in the diversion treatment condition, having fewer symptoms at baseline, being supervised by probation or parole during the three-month period, and greater psychiatric hospital days were associated with arrest at three months.

CONCLUSION: These findings do not support the hypothesis that diversion reduces the probability of arrest. In fact, a strong effect in the opposite direction (odds ratio=8.87) raises concern that diversion programs may increase surveilance of people with behavioral health problems and thus enhance their chances for arrest in the future.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration funded this research.

(Return to Program Resources)

Updated 05/20/2006