Jail Diversion

Working together for better lives and stronger communities.

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.

Program Replication

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.

Related News/Updates

October 26, 2016

Advocates Joins White House’s Data-Driven Justice Initiative

Dr. Sarah Abbott, PhD, Director for Advocates Jail Diversion Programs, is pleased to announce that Advocates and its seven corresponding police departments have formally joined the White House-led Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative, focused on reducing the number of individuals with mental health and addiction challenges who are awaiting trial in local jails.

July 29, 2016

Training helps officers handle mental health, crisis situations more effectively

Encountering a person struggling with a serious emotional crisis is one of the most difficult - and increasingly frequent - jobs police officers fa