Getting Inside the Black Box: Understanding How Jail Diversion Works

Originally published in August 2010, Getting Inside the Black Box explores how jail diversion programs can be used to redirect high-risk individuals from criminal justice settings into community-based services and supports. The publication reviews data from the Targeted Capacity Expansion Jail Diversion programs, presents major findings from a cross-sectional analysis of the data, provides strategies to define a target population for diversion, and offers lessons learned and next steps.

The findings presented in Getting Inside the Black Box include the following:

  • Diversion programs improved mental health outcomes and well-being among participants.
  • Participation in diversion programs reduced participants’ symptoms of behavioral health conditions.
  • Diversion programs improved public safety outcomes (by reducing re-arrests, number of days in jail, and charges)
  • Successful diversion programs tend to use individualized, client-oriented services and implement evidence-based practices.

The 2020 release of Getting Inside the Black Box is for reference purposes only. The document has been re-branded to allow for broad distribution to the field, but the content has not been updated from the 2010 publication. Readers should view this publication as a reference resource.

This resource was first shared in 2010 and was rereleased in 2020.

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