Assessing the effectiveness of jail diversion programs for persons with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders

Behav Sci Law. 2005;23(2):163-70. doi: 10.1002/bsl.640.


In recent years, jail diversion programs for people with serious mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders have received increasing attention and have rapidly grown in number. Previous studies suggest that jail diversion programs have the potential to achieve positive outcomes. The present study reports findings from 6 jail diversion programs (3 pre-booking and 3 post-booking) participating in a federally-funded research initiative to assess the effectiveness of jail diversion programs for people with co-occurring disorders. Diverted and non-diverted groups were compared on self-reported outcomes at 12 months following diversion. The findings suggest that jail diversion reduces time spent in jail without increasing the public safety risk, while linking participants to community-based services. Jail diversion costs and the implications of these results for jail diversion programs and future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / economics
  • Commitment of Mentally Ill / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Community Mental Health Services / economics
  • Community Mental Health Services / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Comorbidity
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Diagnosis, Dual (Psychiatry)
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health Services / economics
  • Mental Health Services / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Prisoners / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Prisoners / psychology
  • Prisons / economics
  • Prisons / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Psychotic Disorders / diagnosis
  • Psychotic Disorders / epidemiology
  • Psychotic Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • Referral and Consultation / economics
  • Referral and Consultation / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Substance-Related Disorders / diagnosis
  • Substance-Related Disorders / epidemiology
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation*
  • United States