• Journal Article

The cost of implementing a jail diversion program for people with mental illness in San Antonio, Texas

Citation

Cowell, A., Hinde, J., Broner, N., & Aldridge, A. (2015). The cost of implementing a jail diversion program for people with mental illness in San Antonio, Texas. Evaluation and Program Planning, 48, 57-62. DOI: 10.1016/j.evalprogplan.2014.09.004

Abstract

Jail diversion programs for people with mental illness are designed to redirect offenders with mental illness into community treatment. Although much has been published about program models and their successes, little detail is available to policy makers and community stakeholders on the resources required to start and implement a jail diversion program and which agencies bear how much of the burden. The current study used data on a model jail diversion program in San Antonio, Texas, to address this research gap. Data on staff costs, client contacts, planning, and implementation were collected for three types of diversion: pre-booking police, post-booking bond, and post-booking docket. An activity-based costing algorithm was developed to which parameter values were applied. The start-up cost for the program was $556,638.69. Pre-booking diversion cost $370 per person; 90% of costs were incurred by community mental health agencies for short-term monitoring and screening (>80% of activities). Post-booking bond and docket diversion cost $238 and $205 per person, respectively; the majority of costs were incurred by the courts for court decisions. Developing a multiple-intercept jail diversion program requires significant up-front investment. The share of costs varies greatly depending on the type of diversion