Counties Enhance Safety and Improve Outcomes with Recovery Fund Investments in Jail Diversion

  • Blog

    Counties Enhance Safety and Improve Outcomes with Recovery Fund Investments in Jail Diversion

    Under the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund), part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the federal government allocated $65.1 billion to counties across the United States to ensure the health and wellbeing of our nation’s residents and the economic vitality of our local communities. To improve community safety and promote positive outcomes for individuals, counties are investing Recovery Funds in practices that enhance supportive services across jails and communities, strengthen justice system infrastructure and efficiencies and bolster local behavioral health continuums of care. One of these practices is jail diversion.

    Jail diversion reduces community members’ interactions with the criminal legal system through community-based services and alternatives to incarceration. Diversion can happen during interactions with police, at the time of charging or through court programs. These “exit ramps” at various points in the criminal legal system reduce racial and ethnic disparities and the collateral consequences of justice system involvement such as lost earnings, barriers to housing, education and employment and reduced access to social safety net programs.

    Through jail diversion efforts, we can keep community members connected to loved ones, employment, education, housing and health care – factors that foster healthy, vibrant and safe communities.

    Many counties are using Recovery Funds to continue efforts started through the Safety and Justice Challenge, Stepping Up and Familiar Faces Initiative that work to reduce the disproportionately high rate of people with behavioral health conditions involved in the criminal legal system.


    Counties are investing ARPA resources in jail diversion practices such as implementing Crisis Intervention Teams, expanding mental health programs and offering post-arrest or post-conviction services.

    Gloucester County, N.J.

    Gloucester County implemented a Crisis Intervention Team (CIT-NJ) to expand cooperation between mental health professionals and local law enforcement and divert community members to appropriate mental health treatment. The county committed $225,000 to a mental health agency that partners law enforcement officials and clinicians to assist residents experiencing a mental health crisis.

    Polk County, Iowa

    In partnership with the City of Des Moines, Polk County obligated $120,000 to establish the Crisis Advocacy Response Effort (CARE) program. With CARE, Polk County expands its mobile crisis response team to include a mental health clinician at the Des Moines Police Department Communications Center to expedite mental health dispatch and deploy appropriate services.

    Seminole County, Fla.

    Seminole County appropriated $6 million to improve and expand initiatives to support residents experiencing a behavioral health emergency. The funding expands the Seminole Collaborative Opioid Response Efforts (SCORE) and Juvenile Mobile Crisis Response programs to connect community members to treatment and reduce justice system involvement.

    Tulsa County, Okla.

    In Tulsa County, leaders invested $127,000 to staff Women in Recovery (WIR). WIR is an alternative outpatient jail diversion effort for eligible women facing long prison sentences for non-violent, drug-related offenses. The funding adds staff who support women living in the community during the program and maintain treatment hours, with a goal of diverting more women from incarceration.

    Warren County, N.Y.

    The Warren County Board of Supervisors is dedicating $1 million to improve mental health services. The funding will be available as grant money to organizations that provide behavioral health services, such as prevention and treatment programs, harm reduction and support for long-term recovery.

    Douglas County, Neb.

    Douglas County allocated approximately $311,000 to expand the Mental Health Diversion Program. The program provides services to people with a mental health condition who encounter the criminal legal system and works to reduce the length of stay in jail by promoting recovery and connections to community-based mental health services. Diversion is voluntary and initiated pre-plea of the criminal charges; participants are offered a reduction or elimination of pending legal charges if they successfully complete the program.

    Los Angeles County, Calif.

    Los Angeles County appropriated $47.1 million to the Care First, Jails Last initiative. The initiative aims to expand care systems, support decarceration and provide community-based diversion, treatment and reentry as an alternative to jails. The initiative covers a variety of sub-projects like the Alternative Crisis Response and Bed Availability Navigator System, an app for first responders and care navigators that identifies the nearest available bed.

    Dane County, Wis.

    Dane County allocated $1 million to organizations working to reduce community violence. Funding is dedicated to organizations connecting children, youth and families to community resources, fostering strong neighborhoods through developing trusting relationships and supporting intervention and continuous healing for community members affected by violence. By using the resources for early intervention and prevention efforts, the county aims to address the social determinants of health, which consist of core drivers of health and behavioral health, to reduce harmful behavior and subsequent justice system involvement. Similarly, the county dedicated $23 million to the hotel shelter program to increase community health, which has served more than 400 unique households. 

    Bell County, Texas

    Bell County is setting aside approximately $4 million to develop a Diversion Center that supports residents with behavioral health conditions and diverts them from jail. This center will identify community members with behavioral health conditions and connect them to appropriate services and treatment.


    • Local Government ARPA Investment Tracker
    • Counties and the American Rescue Plan Act Recovery Fund: Justice and Public Safety
    • Counties and the American Rescue Plan Act Recovery Fund: Behavioral Health
    • NACo COVID-19 Recovery Clearinghouse
    • Diverting to What
    • How to Set Up a Jail Diversion Program in Your Community
    • Developing a System of Diversion for Frequent Utilizers
    • MacArthur Foundation Safety and Justice Challenge
    • Stepping Up
    • Familiar Faces
    • Promoting Health and Safety Through a Behavioral Health Continuum of Care
    Under the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund (Recovery Fund), part of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the federal government all

Related Posts

Related Resources

More From