Diverting to What

Diversion strategies offer alternatives to incarceration for individuals with mental health and substance use disorders. Pre-arrest diversion strategies range from specialized police-based response models, such as Crisis Intervention Training, to direct handoffs to community-based organizations that are able to effectively address the underlying issues leading to law enforcement contact. Diversion can also occur at other points in criminal justice processing, including at intake or during judicial processing. Identifying an appropriate diversion strategy requires jurisdictions to identify where high utilizers are encountered in the justice system, what programs and services they need and the resources that are available in the community (or can be created in the community) that can serve as alternatives to usual justice system processing. In general, a diversion strategy will promote better public safety outcomes, more efficient use of public resources and increase linkages across health, behavioral health, housing and other social support systems.