Iredell County and Partners Introduce Jail Diversion Program

GASTONIA, N.C., November 26, 2018 –  When people living with a severe mental illness or a mental illness combined with a substance use disorder are arrested, they usually do not get the treatment they need. This lack of treatment results in a cycle of re-arrests, declining health and worsening symptoms, as well as stress on law enforcement officers and resources.

Partners Health Management has been awarded a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) to create the Partners Diversion Program. Partners will collaborate with local agencies to provide treatment instead of jail time for people in Iredell County who are diagnosed with severe mental illness or co-occurring disorders.

About the Grant

Many people who come in contact with law enforcement and the criminal justice system have a mental health disorder. The U.S. Department of Justice reports that one in seven state and federal prisoners and one in four jail inmates experience serious psychological distress. Approximately 250,000 individuals with serious mental illnesses are incarcerated at any given moment.

Last month, SAMHSA selected Partners to receive a Law Enforcement and Behavioral Health Partnerships for Early Diversion Grant of $325,000 per year for five years to address the needs in Iredell County. Grant funds will be used for a location, staffing, training, outreach and evaluation. Funds will not be used to pay for services for program participants.

How the Diversion Program Works

Currently, about 90 percent of the police officers in Iredell County, and many of the probation/parole officers, emergency medical technicians and 911 dispatch operators have received Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) or law enforcement assisted diversion training. This specialized training allows first responders and criminal justice officials to recognize signs of severe mental illness and co-occurring disorders. When an officer encounters someone 18 or older experiencing these symptoms, they will be able to transport the person to a crisis drop-off center where a behavioral health professional will perform an assessment and work with the individual to create a Whole Person Integrated Care treatment plan.

The individual will receive services and resources to address their physical and behavioral health needs. The goal is to stabilize symptoms and reduce the chances for re-arrest for 270-480 individuals annually, and 1,950 individuals over the life of the grant. The total budget for the project is $513,000 per year over five years.

Partnering Organizations

The Partners Diversion Program is a collaboration of Partners, Statesville Police Department, Troutman Police Department, Mooresville Police Department, Daymark Recovery Services, Fifth Street Ministries, Addiction Recovery Medical Services, Drug/Alcohol Abuse Free Iredell, Impact Health of Iredell, Iredell County Department of Social Services and Iredell County Health Department.