HOPKINTON — Hopkinton Police Chief Joseph Bennett, Holliston Police Chief Matthew Stone and Sherborn Police Interim Chief David Bento are pleased to announce that their departments’ co-response Jail Diversion Program has recently been restructured and will now offer increased intervention services to its communities.
The Co-Response Jail Diversion Program (JDP), operated by Advocates in partnership with the police departments, aims to re-direct individuals committing non-violent offenses from the criminal justice system to more appropriate community-based behavioral health services. The regional Co-Response Jail Diversion Program, which previously included Ashland, has recently been restructured to be comprised of the Holliston, Hopkinton and Sherborn Police Departments.
With three communities as members of the regional program now, the program is able to allocate the same resources at a greater capacity to deliver proven intervention services to community members.
“It goes without saying how vital the Jail Diversion Program is to our three agencies as it allows our officers to respond to calls with mental health components in a way that ensures the individual gets the appropriate help,” Chief Stone said. “We are fortunate to have such a great working relationship with our JDP partners which in turn allows us to continue this crucial service.”
Launched in 2015, the JDP pairs specially trained crisis clinicians from Advocates with police officers at the Holliston, Hopkinton and Sherborn Police Departments. These embedded clinicians respond with patrol officers to calls for service and 911 calls providing immediate on-scene de-escalation, assessment and referrals for individuals in crisis.
“Our communities greatly benefit from the program,” said Diane Gould, Advocates President and CEO. “We are pleased to partner with the local police departments to effectively deliver the right kind of response and care to individuals in crisis. The model also frees up resources for both police and the health care system.”
The JDP clinician for the towns of Holliston, Hopkinton and Sherborn, Ashley Scionti, is scheduled to be in each town one to two times per week, but is available to all communities five days a week, if needed. When a JDP clinician is not on duty, the Advocates Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES) team supports the JDP clinician to ensure timely access to services for the participating police agencies 24/7.
“As our officers worked beside the Jail Diversion Program clinicians, we saw a paradigm shift in the way our department perceived and handled mental health crisis calls,” Chief Bennett said. “Through their scope of work, our clinicians have assisted us in identifying those who may be experiencing a crisis and in delivering rapid mental health services to those in need. As a direct result, we have had fewer mental health calls result in arrests and more specialized care administered to our community members.”
In addition to restructuring the program, the JDP released its most recent quarterly report. The January-March 2021 Quarterly Report, which includes Ashland because it was a member community at the time, states that during the first quarter of the year, police officers referred a total of 201 cases to JDP clinicians, including 77 referrals in January, 68 referrals in February and 56 referrals in March.
One of the JDP’s primary goals is to divert low-level offenders away from the criminal justice system and into more appropriate community-based behavioral health treatments. In the first quarter of 2021, nine individuals with mental illness were diverted from arrest with two having been diverted in January, three in February and four in March. The average percentage of those eligible for arrest who were diverted in the first quarter was 76%. These diversions represent an estimated cost savings of $22,680, or $2,520 per arrest event, to the criminal justice system.
The JDP also reduces the number of individuals referred to local hospital emergency departments, with a total of 20 individuals in the first quarter diverted from unnecessary hospital admissions due to the presence of a JDP clinician on the scene. As a result, the estimated health care cost savings within the first quarter was $80,000, or $4,000 per emergency department diversion.
In total, the estimated cost savings for the first quarter due to diversion activity by the regional JDP was approximately $102,680. To view the January-March 2021 Quarterly Report, click here.
“The Jail Diversion Program has been instrumental in delivering targeted services to address the needs of our community members with mental health and substance use disorders,” Chief Bento said. “As a tri-department co-response team now, we look forward to continuing our work with a stronger focus on the Holliston, Hopkinton and Sherborn communities.”
To review the complete 2020 Annual Report, click here.
Advocates provides a broad range of services for people facing life challenges such as addiction, aging, autism, brain injury, intellectual/developmental 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. For more information about Advocates, visit www.Advocates.org.
Learn more about Advocates Jail Diversion Program at www.jaildiversion.org.