Dr. Sarah Abbott
Jail Diversion Programs Coordinator
1881 Worcester Road
Framingham, MA 01701
For Immediate Release
Friday, Oct. 21, 2016
Contact: John Guilfoil
Email: [email protected]
Advocates Joins White House’s Data-Driven Justice Initiative
FRAMINGHAM — Dr. Sarah Abbott, PhD, Director for Advocates Jail Diversion Programs, is pleased to announce that Advocates and its seven corresponding police departments have formally joined the White House-led Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) Initiative, focused on reducing the number of individuals with mental health and addiction challenges who are awaiting trial in local jails.
DDJ seeks to reduce unnecessary pre-trial incarceration by enhancing the use of new and existing data, and by helping spread best practices. Nationwide, 64 percent of those being held in local jails suffer from mental illness, while 68 percent have a substance use disorder.
“In June 2016, we launched the Data-Driven Justice Initiative to support communities who want to use data to be smarter about diverting people with mental illness away from the criminal justice system and into community based treatment,” said U.S. Chief Data Scientist DJ Patil. “We are excited that DDJ has grown to include over 120 diverse communities across the country, reaching more than 90 million individuals.”
Ashland, Sherborn, Holliston, Hopkinton, Marlborough, Watertown and Framingham Police Departments are participating in the initiative. Collaborating with Advocates’ Jail Diversion Programs, these seven departments have embedded a full-time clinician in their departments to co-respond to calls for service involving individuals in a behavioral health crisis. In addition to diverting low-level offenders away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate treatment, a co-responding clinician working side-by-side with the police can be a powerful intervention tool for people with opioid addiction. Upon learning of an opioid related overdose, where Narcan was administered to save the person, the clinician will initiate contact with that individual and/or the family to offer immediate access to treatment and associated resources.
“At Advocates, we strive to provide care to the whole person and ensure that those experiencing a mental health emergency get the care they need, when they need it most,” Abbott said. “Joining the DDJ allows our police departments to further incorporate data-driven activities into their community policing initiatives. We have high hopes for the DDJ Initiative and applaud the White House for its creation.”
Advocates provides a broad range of services for people facing life challenges such as addiction, aging, autism, brain injury, intellectual disabilities and mental health challenges. With Advocates’ help, thousands of individuals and families living in Massachusetts are finding the supports they need to lead healthy, productive and rewarding lives.