Comparing outcomes for diverted and nondiverted jail detainees with mental illnesses

Law Hum Behav. 1999 Dec;23(6):615-27. doi: 10.1023/a:1022385204967.


Jail diversion programs have been proposed for use with persons with mental illnesses. While much support exists for these programs in theory, little is known about their characteristics, the individuals they divert, or their effectiveness. The current study focuses on identifying the characteristics of persons diverted through a court-based program in one midwestern city and their outcomes during the first 2 months after diversion. Information on participants (n = 80) was gathered through detainee interviews, staff interviews, and record abstracts. Two factors appear to be important in diversion: (1) community risk and (2) availability of specialized programs for diverted offenders. Demographic, clinical, and social context variables appear to influence diversion decisions. Overall, the diverted and nondiverted groups did approximately the same upon release, but one third of the nondiverted group never got released during the follow-up.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Community Mental Health Centers*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / complications
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Midwestern United States
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Prisoners*
  • Quality of Life
  • Substance-Related Disorders / psychology