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Sentencing Diversion Programs

Sentencing diversion programs are formal, institutionalized programs for people with mental illness that were created to reduce the volume of and frequency with which this population is involved in the criminal justice system as defendants. Their primary purpose is to divert persons with mental illness (PMIs) from the criminal justice system (including jail and prison) into community, outpatient mental health, and substance abuse treatment. Diversion, which can occur at any point in the criminal justice process (from prearrest to postconviction), has several defining features. These features include sharing a common goal of reducing recidivism rates of PMIs, relying on a therapeutic jurisprudence model, having predefined target populations, using a carrot-and-stick approach to achieve compliance, maintaining collaborations across multiple systems of care, and sometimes mandating treatment. ...

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