In September 2013, SAMHSA awarded three Law Enforcement and Behavioral Health Partnerships for Early Diversion (short title: Early Diversion) grants. According to SAMHSA, the purpose of this grant program is to “address the behavioral health needs of people involved in, or at risk of involvement in, the criminal justice system by providing an array of community-based diversion services designed to keep individuals with behavioral health issues out of the criminal justice system while also addressing issues of public safety.”
The Colorado Early Diversion program, Project EDGE (Early Diversion, Get Engaged) is administered through the Boulder County Sheriff’s Department. The Sheriff’s Department hopes that Project EDGE will improve coordination between Boulder County Law Enforcement and behavioral health providers, thereby increasing access to services for people when they are in crisis and at their highest level of need.
The Connecticut Early Diversion program is administered by the CT Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (DMHAS). DMHAS plans to implement the Specialized Crisis Intervention Teams for Young Adults Partnership Program (SCYA). DMHAS will build on relationships between criminal justice and behavioral health agencies that were developed in response to the creation of the CT Criminal Justice Policy Advisory Commission and add representatives from the CT Alliance to Benefit Law Enforcement (the entity that conducts Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training in the state) and the National Alliance on Mental Illness to make up the SCYA Partnership. The SCYA Partnership will assist CITs to effectively engage young adults in appropriate treatment and prevent them from entering the criminal justice system by making changes in the training, procedures, and resources available to CITs to enhance their capacity to respond to young adults with mental health and co-occurring substance use disorders.
The Tennessee Early Diversion program, known as the Knoxville Early Diversion Program, is run by the TN Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. The City of Knoxville hopes to enhance existing behavioral health, substance abuse, and co-occurring services by giving law enforcement an avenue to identify individuals who are appropriate for pre-arrest diversion. The diversion team will consist of Early Diversion Liaisons and Diversion Case Managers. The Liaisons will work side by side with law enforcement in the community to intervene and divert appropriate individuals at initial police contact.
The GAINS Center will be providing technical assistance to the above grantees to help them to successfully implement effective Early Diversion programs.