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Mecklenburg County Recovery Solutions: A Jail Diversion Continuum

Goal: Less Jail, More Treatment
Nationally, a large majority of individuals in the justice system have mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders, and the same is true locally. For years, the PSO has taken the lead collaborating to promote recovery for this population by collaborating with the court system, Public Defender’s, District Attorney’s and Sheriff’s Offices, law enforcement, Community Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice. The Recovery Solutions collaborative meets monthly to identify gaps and address service needs.

The Case for Jail Diversion
People with mental illness:
  • Are more likely to be arrested
  • Face more serious charges
  • Receive stiffer sentences
  • Serve longer
  • Can't make bail (lack income)
  • Have more difficulty coping - more behavior problems, sanctions, and infractions in prison
  • Are more vulnerable to being exploited and manipulated by other inmates
  • Often not identified in jail
  • Often prescribed cheaper substitute medications in jail 

NC HB 1493 Section 10.49 (f) requires (within available resources)

  • Standardized screening instrument
  • A designated employee who screens daily jail booking log for known mental health consumers
  • Protocols for effective communication between the LME and jail staff
  • Training to help detention officers recognize signs of mental illness

 About the Mecklenburg County Jail Diversion Continuum

Collaborative group working past 5 years, meets quarterly and focuses on:

  1. Post-booking jail diversion
    • Jail Diversion Clinician at Jail Central (Melissa Zhiss, 704-962-4871)
    • Mental Health Court (Janeanne Tourtellott, 704-686-0300)
    • Clinician in the Public Defender's Office (Sharlise Spindle, 704-347-7870)
    • MeckFUSE - a housing program for individuals who have spent time in jail and shelters
  2. Pre-booking jail diversion
    • Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT)
    • Mobile Crisis (704-566-3410)
    • Crisis Stabilization Unit (proposed)

Links and Contacts

For more information about this program, contact Sarah Greene, 704-336-2944, Provided Services Organization Manager of Trauma and Justice Partnerships

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