Jail diversion programs have developed in counties across the country to address the increasing involvement of persons with mental health or substance use problems in the criminal justice system. By diverting individuals with mental illness and substance use conditions away from the jails and prisons, and toward more appropriate community-based mental health care, these programs have provided alternatives to incarceration.
The development of this jail diversion program has involved the negotiation between the mental health system, law enforcement officers, attorneys, community agencies and the criminal justice system.
AltaPointe Jail Diversion Goals
The jail diversion program seeks to prevent the criminalization and unnecessary incarceration of nonviolent misdemeanor adult offenders with mental health and substance abuse issues. It targets both male and female consumers, 19 years of age or older, with severe and persistent mental illness and co-occurring disorders who have been incarcerated in the Greater Mobile area.
The Jail Diversion team will refer offenders who may have mental health issues but do not meet the jail diversion criteria to AltaPointe or other local healthcare service providers. AltaPointe Jail Diversion engages mentally ill offenders at the earliest opportunity and provides for continuity of care and supportive services as participants are released from jail and returned to the community.
Benefits to law enforcement, criminal justice
The program helps stabilize mentally ill residents and assists law enforcement and the criminal justice system by reducing:
- Court involvement
- Unnecessary incarcerations, and
- Expenditures for mental healthcare.
Benefits for participants
Upon entry into the program, Jail Diversion participants receive a thorough clinical and needs assessment to provide assistance with making the transition out of jail a successful one.
Participation requires an initial screening by a mental health professional from AltaPointe. The appropriate court representative or law enforcement officer must then clear the inmate for participation in the Jail Diversion program.
Program participants must be adults 19 years of age or older. This program is voluntary and lasts for six months.
An expedited appointment at AltaPointe will assist a participant in obtaining a psychiatric appointment where medication may be prescribed. Psycho-therapy is provided in both individual and group settings. If recommended, a participant may be required to attend on a weekly basis.
Case managers can provide the participant with assistance solving potential barriers that may interfere with success in establishing a stable life once released. Assistance may include: setting up necessary appointments, referrals to community agencies, life skills training and advocacy.
Resources and referrals may include:
- Substance Use Treatment
- Social Security Benefits
- Medical Care
- Vocational Rehabilitation
- Individual Therapy