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Studying Alternatives to Jail for People in Crisis

Keeping people out of the criminal legal system means that police must have alternatives to jail.

In an era where innovation in law enforcement is paramount, JSP is focusing on police-led deflection models and other groundbreaking approaches to address this need. Our research and implementation assistance spans multiple sites across the U.S. including Pima County, AZ; Charleston County, SC; and Harris County, TX, among others. We are partnering with sites in various stages of implementing alternatives to jail to explore the efficacy and implications of these interventions. Taking into account the local dynamics of each jurisdiction, our evaluation efforts examine these strategies’ potential to reshape how law enforcement respond to behavioral health calls and reduce the criminal legal system’s footprint and reach across communities. Through investigation, critical analysis, and our commitment to evidence-based methodologies, we share insights to inform policy makers, practitioners, and academics. For instance, we find that individuals deflected from the criminal legal system to community-based programs experience fewer subsequent arrests, and among individuals who experience continued follow up contact with police these individuals tend to be Black men experiencing more serious mental health diagnoses. Our continued work in this area drives progress toward a more humane, equitable, and effective response to individuals encountering law enforcement.

Related Resources


Differentiating Deflection from Diversion


Deflect First, Arrest Rare


Examining the Impacts of Arrest Deflection Strategies (Pima, AZ)


Implementing a Mental Health Diversion Program

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