Pathways to reform in Michigan: Diversion, deflection, and reentry programs
A recent report from the U.S. Department of Justice revealed alarming rates of mental health disorders among jail inmates–on average, 44 percent of inmates had a mental health diagnosis. Despite this prevalence, jails lack adequate resources to meet inmates’ mental health needs, potentially worsened by discriminatory practices, implicit bias, overcrowding, and hostile environments. And these challenges disproportionately affect racial and ethnic minorities. Further, jails are major public safety expenditures. Michigan, for example, spent an average of $35,809 per inmate in 2015.
In the piece, CHRT outlines three justice reform approaches adopted by the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office, with funding from the county’s Public Safety and Mental Health Preservation Millage, that have emerged as promising solutions to reduce overcrowded jails, address systemic bias, reduce recidivism, and save taxpayer dollars:
- Diversion programs, which divert those with criminal justice involvement into community supports,
- Deflection programs, which deflect those at risk of criminal justice involvement into community supports, and
- Reentry programs, which get individuals in jail the help they need to successfully return to the community.