About Our Jail Diversion Model
Advocates operates Jail Diversion programs in conjunction with police departments in several Massachusetts communities including Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Sherborn, and Watertown. Our Jail Diversion programs are founded on the understanding that by working together, mental health clinicians and police officers can respond more appropriately to the needs of community members with mental illness.
Advocates award-winning model involves extensive collaboration between the police and mental health experts. Our mental health clinicians train and work alongside police officers to help evaluate behavior and determine appropriate treatment. Cross-training between the police and clinicians has led to mutual understanding and respect.
Working on the ground with Jail Diversion clinicians gives police officers the opportunity to provide timely, quality mental health services to those they encounter. Police departments report that the number of ‘repeat players’ has decreased as people are referred to appropriate services. The ability to immediately divert low-level offenders away from arrest and into treatment benefits everyone.
As communities have recognized the need for and value of police and mental health partnerships, Advocates has replicated and adapted its successful Framingham Jail Diversion program in a number of communities. In 2015, with funding from the MetroWest Health Foundation, the Advocates Jail Diversion team created a step-by-step toolkit to assist communities in the process of developing and implementing their own Jail Diversion programs. To learn more about the program or to request a hard copy of the toolkit, please email Sarah Abbott, Jail Diversion Program Director at SAbbott@Advocates.org.