Policy Advocacy Brief
Issue Statement/Executive Summary
Currently, in Minnesota alone, there are more individuals with severe mental illness being incarcerated than hospitalized. Blue Earth County's Yellow Line Project (YLP) reported that 83.7% of individuals screened positive for mental illness prior to being booked into jail . Not only does incarcerating individuals with mental illness fill our jails, it prolongs mental illness and time spent away from treatment. Jail diversion programs divert individuals with mental health disorders from the criminal justice system and into appropriate treatment when applicable. For those individuals ineligible for diversion from the criminal justice system, care coordination would be ideal to assist in finding appropriate treatment and to assist the person in accessing other preventative healthy care services. Care coordination would be most beneficial if paired with law enforcement and human services at a county or regional level. Jail recidivism rates have dropped significantly since the introduction of care coordinators within the criminal justice system. While some larger county jails host jail diversion programs, many county or regional jails do not. Without jail diversion programs and coordination of care workers, jails have become default treatment facilities these suffering individuals.
Henning, M., Mattick, R., & Turbes, C. (2018). Jails are not treatment centers. MSW Program Policy Briefs, Minnesota State University, Mankato. https://cornerstone.lib.mnsu.edu/msw-student-policy-advocacy-briefs/13