PD Pick of the Week : Mental Health and Jail Diversion

There is a joint meeting of the of the Public Protection and Judiciary Committee (PPJ) with the Health and Human Needs Committee on Tuesday June 6, at 5:30 in the City-County Building room 354.  The focus of this meeting is to discuss jail diversion of individuals with Mental Health issues.  A specific recommendation is to develop a short term crisis/restoration/stabilization program, including capacity for short term residence to serve individuals with mental health issues who would otherwise be booked into jail.

Here are some issues that deserve consideration:

  • Roughly how many people per week are taken to jail because of a mental health or drug crisis?  
  • Are there any round-the-clock mental health beds available for crisis stabilization and jail diversion?  How many?  
  • What are the usage statistics? How many does the county need? If beds are going unused, why?  
  • How can the community be informed about what services are available, and when?
  • Is there a way to use the jail as a shelter of last resort without involving the person in the criminal justice system (no booking, no charging, no CCAP)?  Would this take legal changes, or just procedural ones?
  • Once a person has been stabilized (which might take several days) what structures exist, or could exist, to connect him/her with on-going medical services, housing, employment, food?

Over the last two years, multiple criminal justice workgroups created by the County Board have developed recommendations related to reducing the use of jail for people with mental health and substance abuse needs.  Many questions remain regarding implementation:

  • What progress is being made on each of these?  Who is responsible for working on each of these?  Are PP&J and HHN willing to have further joint meetings to oversee implementation of recommendations?  Are PP&J and HHN willing to prioritize funding for any of these recommendations in 2018 budget?
  • How is jail planning impacted by implementation of these recommendations?  Can the number of beds be reduced if we "stepped up" efforts to reduce the use of jail for persons with mental health and substance abuse issues? 
  • Would any of these recommendations be appropriate for funding support from the human services reserve fund or $6.24M in 2016 surplus?  What necessary systems changes can be incentivized through funding contracts?

For more background info, please read the report of the Diversion Work Group:


Here are the Recommendations of the Workgroup on Mental Health, Solitary Confinement, and Incarceration:


If you can't make it, the meeting will be live streamed here:


Please attend the meeting if you can and show your support for this important initiative!