Finding Our Voice to Reduce Native American Incarceration Across SJC Sites

By: Michaela Seiber, MPH

Community Engagement Racial Disparities November 21, 2022

November is Native American Heritage month. It gives a platform for Native people in the United States of America to share our culture, traditions, music, crafts, dance, and ways and concepts of life. It’s also an appropriate time to highlight the overrepresentation of Indigenous people in jails across the country while actively pursuing solutions. Some estimates suggest that Indigenous people are jailed at twice the rate of White people in the U.S. In the past, people in communities participating in the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) have spoken about how to address the disparity.

This blog is about a recent trip I took to Pima County, Arizona, from Minnehaha County in South Dakota to see how Pima County’s SJC initiative is working with the community to reduce incarceration and improve health outcomes.

I’m Executive Director of South Dakota Urban Indian Health (SDUIH), which recently joined Minnehaha County’s SJC team in 2021. We provide support for our Native American relatives impacted by the justice system. SDUIH is one of 41 Urban Indian Health Programs that operate under a Title V contract with the Indian Health Service to provide medical, behavioral health, and cultural health services to Natives living in urban settings throughout the country. We are also a 501c3 non-profit and able to pursue initiatives, grants, and programs specific to the communities we operate within, such as joining Minnehaha County’s SJC work. South Dakota is home to nine tribal nations, which make up part of the larger Oceti Sakowin (Seven Council Fires).

Through my work with SJC, I am also part of the Wičhóyaŋke Network (WN), a convening of Indigenous leaders from both community and criminal justice systems. WN’s mission is to identify Indigenous community-led solutions and strategies that have successfully helped in lowering or eliminating racial disparities in community criminal justice systems related to the incarceration of Indigenous people, with the ultimate goal of disseminating that information for Indigenous communities nationwide to assist in Indigenous-led efforts to eliminate racial disparities.

Last week, I visited Tucson, AZ to see how Pima County’s SJC is working with the community to reduce incarceration and improve health outcomes. I was also able to visit and meet with leaders at the Tucson Indian Center during the same week, giving me the ability to see SJC work from both the systems perspective and from the perspective of the Native community in Pima County.

Tucson has two major tribal nations nearby, the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui. I visited both communities and met with tribal members to discuss the justice system. I visited the San Xavier Mission Market where local tribal food vendors set up and, of course, sampled some southwest style frybread (yum!) and browsed the jewelry vendors nearby. Both tribal communities have an abundance of programs and services available to Native relatives in the Tucson area.

During my visit, I saw an obvious desire for both the criminal justice systems players and community members to decrease jail populations and improve substance use and mental health services for Native people in their community. However, I also observed that the two groups seemed disconnected in their approaches toward their shared goals. This isn’t unique to Pima County, and it was somewhat comforting to know this problem exists beyond Minnehaha County. The criminal justice system folks were unaware of the existing programs and work within Native communities, and the Native community leaders had several questions about SJC programming. This prompted thoughts examining the root cause behind the prevalence of this problem for so many communities.

People representing and working within the courts, police departments, etc. often don’t understand why Native people aren’t represented in conversations identifying solutions for the Native community. The difficult truth is that the spaces where these conversations are taking place weren’t made for us, and often our thoughts and concerns are dismissed or met with hostility when we try to contribute.

We had a discussion within Wičhóyaŋke Network about the things we’ve all had to give up to be part of this work, and why it’s so hard to continue working with our criminal justice system counterparts. As Native leaders, we have to set aside or ignore so many pieces of ourselves to have a seat at the table of this work: the tears that come to my eyes in these meetings when I think of the hurt caused by these systems and feeling like a traitor; the endless questions I ask myself wondering whether I’m part of the problem because I’m sitting in these rooms. It’s hard to be the only one in these meetings asking, “How does this impact the Native community?” or “What does the data show for the Native community?” And while it is exhausting, I realize that if I’m not there, those questions won’t get asked—no one else will make uncomfortable statements about how we’re failing our Native relatives.

At the recent SJC convening in Atlanta, I was able to discuss these same things with relatives from San Francisco. I was comforted by the realization that many working on this project face these same feelings and have had to make these same concessions to improve the systems that have torn our communities apart. As Native people, it’s often easy to ignore the invitation or stay silent during the meetings because we don’t know where our voices fit. It’s often the safest thing to do but without our notable presence and hard questions, this work won’t lead to the change we need so our relatives can heal.

The visit to Pima County was incredibly meaningful and gave me insight into how to move forward with the Wičhóyaŋke Network, as well as a clearer vision for SDUIH’s place in Minnehaha County’s SJC work. Wopida tanka (many thanks)!

Meeting the Behavioral Health Needs of Veterans Across the Intercepts

By: Ashley Krider, Terri Hay, Duane France

Human Toll of Jail Jail Populations Veterans November 10, 2022

Many veterans experience substance use disorders, mental health conditions including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), and trauma, including traumatic brain injuries, all of which can lead to involvement with the criminal legal system. Fifty-five percent of veterans incarcerated in 2011–2012 reported having a mental health disorder, with mental illness diagnosis twice as high in veterans as in non-veterans. Approximately 65% to 71% of justice-involved Veterans had a reported substance use disorder before arrest.

In recognition of Veterans Day on November 11th, we would like to highlight several relevant resources and opportunities. A focus on specific populations, such as Veterans, aligns with the commitment Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) communities have to diversion and deflection, as well as meeting the behavioral health needs of individuals who are or may become involved with the criminal legal system.

  • Many SJC cities and counties, which receive support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, operate Veterans Treatment Courts, including Harris County, TX, Cook County, IL, Ada County, ID, and Palm Beach County, FL. Unlike traditional criminal courts, the primary purpose of a Veterans Treatment Courts is not to determine whether an individual is guilty of an offense, but rather to ensure that they receive treatment to address unmet clinical needs. There are over 600 Veterans Treatment Courts across the U.S.
  • With the integration of the new three-digit National Suicide and Crisis Lifeline (988), people can now dial 988 and press 1 to access the Veterans Crisis Line. There are also options to chat online or text at 838255. Responders are trained in crisis intervention and military culture.
  • One program from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that allow entities to identify whether an individual has prior military service is the Veterans Re-Entry Search Service. This web-based system allows prison, jail, and court staff to identify Veterans quickly and accurately among their populations. The VA makes this service available to facilitate its own direct outreach to these Veterans, and to inform the development of Veteran-specific programs in the criminal legal system.
  • Veterans Justice Outreach specialists provide a range of services to assist justice-involved Veterans, including outreach to Veterans across the possible span of their interactions with the criminal legal system, such as law enforcement encounters, courts, jails, and prisons. The aim of the Veteran Justice Outreach program is to avoid the unnecessary criminalization of mental illness and extended incarceration among Veterans by ensuring that eligible, justice-involved Veterans have timely access to Veterans Health Administration services. Each state has one or more Veteran Justice Outreach specialists who can provide additional information on the program.
  • The Peer Specialist Toolkit helps Veterans Health Administration medical centers hire and deploy peer specialists who help other Veterans get treatment for mental and substance use disorders.
  • The Rural Veteran Outreach Toolkitassists VA personnel in collaborating with community partners to reach rural Veterans through education and outreach.
  • The National Institute of Corrections’ Veterans Reentry Programming: Supporting Transition to Civilian Life Across the Sequential Intercept Model outlines Veteran-specific reentry approaches.

We also operate SAMHSA’s Service Members, Veterans, and their Families Technical Assistance (SMVF TA) Center, which serves as a national resource to support states, territories, and local communities in strengthening their capacity to address the behavioral health needs of military-connected individuals and families. The SMVF TA Center supports specific initiatives like the VA/SAMHSA Governor’s and Mayor’s Challenges to Prevent Suicide among SMVF as well as the public at large through a variety of technical assistance efforts including needs assessments, virtual and onsite consultation, Policy and Implementation Academies, interagency collaboration and support, and dissemination of educational resources including a monthly e-newsletter.

One offering from the SMVF TA Center is the Crisis Intercept Mapping (CIM) for SMVF Suicide Prevention. The Crisis Intercept Mapping is a tool that helps community stakeholders visualize how SMVF flow through the crisis care system. The Crisis Intercept Mapping has some parallels to our Sequential Intercept Model and is designed to help communities strengthen the delivery of evidence-based suicide prevention policies and practices for SMVF before, during, and after a time of crisis.

As identified on the model below, within a community crisis system there are four key “intercept points” that provide opportunities for diverting at-risk SMVF to appropriate and effective prevention and support services:

  1. First Contact
  2. Acute Care
  3. Care Transitions
  4. Ongoing Treatment and Recovery Support

In 2022, the White House released a report, Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide: Advancing a Comprehensive, Cross-Sector, Evidence-Informed Public Health Strategy, directly calling for the “expansion of SAMHSA’s crisis mapping initiative to assist cities and counties in identifying gaps and incorporating best practices in suicide prevention for veterans interacting with community crisis systems” (Priority Goal 2 on page 13). Crisis Intercept Mapping is designed to bring together an interagency group of key stakeholders from the community to identify barriers and gaps in the community’s crisis system serving SMVF and discuss ways in which best practices and partnerships can be implemented to close those gaps and reduce service member and Veteran suicide through the development of integrated local strategic action plans.

A Q&A On Hispanic Heritage Month With 70 Million Creator Juleyka Lantigua

By: Juleyka Lantigua

Human Toll of Jail Jail Populations Racial Disparities September 27, 2022

Q: What does Hispanic Heritage Month mean to you?

A: It means that we’re trying to squeeze too much into a single month. As with any designated month or week to celebrate a huge swath of history and the contributions of a broad range of people, the notion falls absurdly short. But the month-long bookmark does have its utility inasmuch as it focuses the limelight on the rising-majority population of the country, thereby surfacing updated information, demographic trends, and political forecasts that, in the hands of people who want to shape the future of the US, can be very helpful

Q: 70 Million, LWC Studios’ podcast about criminal justice reform, was nominated for a Peabody Award and won several others. What prompted the idea? 

A: I created the show to bridge the gap between practitioners and the public, to provide an accessible tool for educators, supporters, and policymakers that could imbue their work with real-world stories about the disastrous consequences of the matrix of “criminal injustice” systems at work in the United States. It’s, at its core, a public service.

Q: Why is it so important to tell the story of the local impact of jail through the voices of people impacted by jail?

A: Jails are the gateway to life-long entanglements with the legal system; they are the progenitors of generational cycles of poverty and disenfranchisement; they are almost entirely useless given that 97% of defendants never go to trial to get their “day in court,” and they simply warehouse people who actually need help. They are the depositories of social ills (not people) we care very little about curing: mental health, domestic violence, drug addiction, homelessness, military PTSD, chronic poverty, and inhumane immigration policies. So they are ideal for unpacking how ignoring, miscategorizing and relegating our collective responsibility for our fellow citizens diminishes who we are and makes becoming who we pretend to be impossible.

Q: Which episode of the podcast has had the most impact on listeners, do you think? 

A: Based on listens, episode 10 in season four reached the most people.

When a State Treats Drug Addiction Like a Health Issue, Not a Crime

A year ago, Oregon became the first state to decriminalize drug possession. The goal is to reverse some of the negative impacts of the War on Drugs by approaching drug use from a health-centered basis. We visit an addiction and recovery center in Portland that’s gearing up for what they hope will be an influx of people seeking treatment. Reported by Cecilia Brown.

Q: Racial equity is a huge part of jail reform, isn’t it? 

A: Racial equity is the only axis on which true reform can be achieved. A system built on monetizing the capture of formerly enslaved people cannot be reformed without addressing the institutional DNA that created it.

Q: I understand that you’re Dominican, and that you’ve also traced your ancestry back to multiple parts of Africa. How does that play into your view of jail issues? 

A: I am an Afro-Descendent Latina woman raising two Black boys in the United States today. Every day I spend on this work extends my sons’ safety, further secures their well being, and contributes to the security of my family’s longevity. This work is vital to me.

Q: What are some of the major issues facing Latinx people in American jails?

A: The same issues that plague everyone else: unreasonable pre-trial detention periods, an exploitative bail system, lack of mental health services, overwhelmed public defenders, understaffed courts, physical hazards in dilapidated facilities, organized crime, etc. But increasingly, a subset of the country’s Latino population has been targeted and trapped by ICE and its private jail and prison contractors. The most revolting of these has been the children separated from their families and held in ice-cold warehouses for months as they sought asylum. So, in many ways, the local jail has become mobile and can pop up anywhere a dragnet needs to be formed for political theater.

Q: Why does it matter that stories about people of color in American jails are told by and for people of color?

A: Because we are the experts in our own experiences. 

Counties Enhancing Racial Equity in the Criminal Justice System through Grantmaking

By: Chelsea Thomson

Community Engagement Racial Disparities September 12, 2022

The National Association of Counties, in partnership with the National Criminal Justice Association and with support from the Bureau of Justice Assistance, has released a toolkit for counties interested in addressing racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal legal system through grantmaking. The toolkit outlines eight principles, developed by a working group of county stakeholders, state administering agency representatives, and community-led organization leaders, to help enhance equity in the criminal legal system. It features several communities participating in the Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) that are undertaking initiatives such as grants to community-led organizations.

More information about the toolkit is found here.

County governments play an important role in funding programs and services that support the well-being of community members. With this budget authority, county governments have a unique opportunity to invest in community-led organizations that often provide critical services and supports to communities underserved by social service systems and overrepresented in the justice system. By strategically investing in and partnering with such organizations, counties are also working to close these gaps to correct for historic disinvestment that has led to racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal legal system. To achieve this goal, counties can help ensure equitable access to funding opportunities and minimize barriers to implementation of grant-funded programs and services.

When deploying resources and managing implementation of programs or policies, county leaders pursuing equity in procurement and grantmaking may choose to guide their decision making with the following guiding principles in mind: Trust, Transparency, Community, Fairness, Intentional Access & Inclusion, Support, Creativity, and Joint Accountability.

These guiding principles are supported by several strategies and practices counties can implement to bring them to life and demonstrate a commitment to equity in our communities. Some examples of SJC communities, drawn from the toolkit, include:

Building Trust in Lucas County, Ohio

Trusting partnerships can open lines of communication, encourage a willingness to innovate, and create opportunities for mutual respect. To help build trust with community-led organizations, counties can invest in the capacity and expertise of community leadership, anchor the relationship in a common goal, reject the funder/recipient power dynamic that can stifle relationships, and learn from and listen to one another as partners.

In Lucas County, Ohio, commissioners dedicated $200,000 to community-led organizations engaging in criminal justice reform efforts and addressing racial disparities. The grant fund provides awards of up to $10,000 to grassroot organizations working in four zip codes. The county’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) also administers federal criminal and juvenile justice funds on behalf of the state, to allow for greater flexibility while continuing to provide oversight and technical assistance.

Advancing Joint Accountability in Cook County, Illinois

As stewards of public dollars, government funders and community-led organizations play a critical role in responding to and serving community members’ needs. Prioritizing intentional investments in communities traditionally left out of the funding process, communicating funder expectations, committing to sharing data, and building a working relationship with continued communication and support can help counties work towards joint accountability.

Cook County, Illinois launched a 50-member taskforce to advise on the county’s strategic investments. One of the grant programs invests in community-led organizations that serve areas with disproportionately high rates of gun violence. Tiered funding tracks with staggered deadlines provide organizations that may have smaller budgets and/or grant writing capacity with time to submit strong applications and be evaluated among similarly situated organizations. The grant funding is provided on a quarterly basis, rather than a reimbursement, and grantees may request a funding advance. Organizations that are led by, support, or employ community members with criminal convictions are not barred from applying on that basis.

Enhancing Fairness in Multnomah County, Oregon

Implementing new processes to enhance fairness in the types of organizations funded and how these funds are administered will help improve access and equity. Strategies to advance fairness include training staff to recognize and address personal and organizational biases, promote practices that allow grantees to contribute to the grantmaking process, raise up champions, and not lower the bar but raise the platform.

Leaders in Multnomah County, Oregon evaluated county investments to fund programs that address the underlying drivers of harmful behavior and uplift communities of color.  The county expanded the Community Healing Initiative that invests resources in community-based partnerships to support youth and families. The program deploys culturally specific services and provides direct relief such as rent, utilities, and internet access. To support smaller and emerging organizations, the county is piloting an initiative to provide 13 months of funding for year-long projects to jumpstart their programming with resources.

Promoting Intentional Access and Inclusion in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Aligning resources with equity goals and removing barriers to participation and use of funding will expand and diversify grantee opportunities and potential relationships. By considering the structure and level of funding, allowing for various entry points, evaluating needed changes in the application process and components, and measuring and broadening success, counties can support access and inclusion for all potential grantees.

The Criminal Justice Microgrant Fund in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania provides resources to community-led organizations engaged in innovative criminal justice reform efforts. Funding can be used to support communities disproportionately impacted by the criminal legal system or provide services to residents who are involved in the system. Organizations led by people of color may also seek general operating support.

Honoring and Uplifting Creativity in Los Angeles County, California

While working within the confines of funding rules and requirements may pose challenges, it can be beneficial to evaluate and revise processes. Honoring and uplifting creativity and innovation, through learning, sharing, and evolving beyond the status quo and utilizing the tools, discretion, and flexibility available to counties, can help to challenge and expand standard practices to work for both sides of the grantmaking equation more effectively.

Residents of Los Angeles County, California approved Measure J in 2020 to dedicate no less than 10 percent of the county’s locally generated, unrestricted funding to community investments that address the disproportionate impact of racial injustice. The county established a 24-member committee that can garner community input and project recommendations through an online form, in both English and Spanish. A community-based, third-party administrator and a community engagement consultant ensure diverse community voices are elevated and incorporated into the decision-making process.

Offering Support in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin

Providing an infrastructure of support and resources for community-led organizations, particularly those new to applying for and/or receiving government funding, can help successfully manage funds. To expand support, counties can provide culturally and socially responsive training, technical assistance, and coaching, invest in funder internal capacity, and engage in intermediaries.

Milwaukee County, Wisconsin’s Community Justice Council is providing grants of $34,500 to each of four grassroots organizations working to reduce or prevent criminal legal system involvement, promote racial equity and engage the community. To support applications, the Community Justice Council sponsored a community grant writing training, hosted an optional information session prior to the submission deadline and published the scoring rubric. During the grant period, grantees are required to attend a new grantee orientation and meetings to discuss expectations, support grant administration and offer connections among the group. A local university serves as the fiscal agent to help grantees meet reporting requirements and disperse funds more quickly.

Improving Transparency in Dane County, Wisconsin

Publishing and sharing materials and decisions often contributes to increased buy-in, accountability and mutual understanding. By prioritizing an open and ongoing commitment to share information in a timely and helpful manner, announcing the process surrounding decision making and personnel/advisors involved, and communicating the purpose of data-collection efforts and results, counties can improve transparency.

Via working group recommendations in Dane County, Wisconsin, county leaders developed the Partners in Equity Grant Program to fund grassroots organizations that aim to reduce legal system involvement and address systemic racial inequities. Organizations can apply for up to $15,000 in funding. Additionally, the county requested an external evaluation of grantmaking policies and practices to enhance racial and social equity across departments.

The Opportunity for Counties

This equity toolkit, and the principles and strategies outlined within, can assist counties to reflect on grantmaking processes to administer funds more equitably and for greater impact. Capitalizing on national momentum to address and reduce racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal legal system, counties can find critical partners and trustees in community-led organizations.

Why Law Enforcement Should Be Doing More Deflection as A Primary Response

By: Shannon Magnuson, Amy Dezember

Diversion Frequent Utilizers Interagency Collaboration August 17, 2022

New research by Justice System Partners supported by the MacArthur Foundation’s Safety and Justice Challenge (SJC) shows the positive impacts of police-led deflection strategies on jail reduction efforts. Overall, “deflection first, arrest rare” as a primary policy for eligible offenses helps reduce criminal legal system involvement and improve equity by connecting individuals to the services they need. It no longer makes access to treatment conditional or contingent on arrest.

Download the report here. 

Deflection is different from diversion. Diversion programs make use of pending criminal charges as the mechanism to elicit treatment initiation and compliance from people living with severe mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Although diversion programs do not always include a formal booking to jail, the person does technically enter the legal system’s front door. In contrast, deflection programs entail no criminal legal system involvement beyond the interaction with the police officer in the field. There is no mechanism to coerce treatment initiation or compliance beyond an individual’s own wishes to enter a program. If an individual ultimately decides not to participate in the program they are referred to, there are no legal consequences. Police-led deflection programs also provide police agencies an opportunity to return to the streets and answer calls from 911 more quickly because transporting individuals to community services can take substantially less time than booking an individual in jail. Combined, police-led deflection can make police agencies more efficient while eliminating the collateral consequences of the legal system on individuals.

Police-led deflection allows officers to use discretion to replace arrest with outreach to community-based service providers for select offenses. It transforms police contact into opportunities to broker community resources, especially for individuals with severe mental health disorders and substance use disorders. It is key that we understand how deflection programs work in practice if we are going to improve and expand these programs, reduce jail populations, and improve equity and access to care by connecting people to the help they need.

The goal of the research was to understand how deflection works in Pima County, AZ, and in Charleston County, SC—two SJC sites. We sought to understand how police make decisions about who to deflect and how deflection to a local crisis center impacts people’s subsequent experience. In 2011, Pima County built the Crisis Response Center (CRC) with county bond funds. It is part of the Banner-University of Arizona Medical Center South Campus. The CRC is a short-term inpatient unit with a maximum length of stay of five days and has a “no wrong door” policy – which means they accept nearly everyone, except individuals who require hospitalization, from any law enforcement agency in the county. Similarly, Charleston County runs the Tri-County Crisis Stabilization Center (TCSC) which is a ten-bed voluntary adult crisis center embedded within the Charleston Drug and Alcohol Center where individuals can stay up to 14 days. Both counties’ crisis centers provide immediate treatment options and psychiatric care for individuals.

In Pima County, when people receive at least two voluntary deflections to the local crisis center, they are more likely to continue agreeing to subsequent deflections and, each time they return to the crisis center, they stay longer. In Charleston County, two-thirds of individuals deflected to the local crisis center had a previous case with the county’s mental health department, showing that both police and service providers are often interacting with the same people. These findings suggest that police-led deflection can help connect or re-connect individuals with treatment while reducing the number of individuals who are brought to jail—effectively creating a parallel treatment open door. Importantly, these repeat access points to treatment reflect research that suggests people need multiple opportunities to access treatment services before agreeing and engaging with the program. In this way, police-led deflection, particularly for individuals who have disproportionate police contact, can transform pathways to jail into pathways to the help they need for individuals historically excluded from access.

A parallel treatment open door does not mean failure to initiate or complete treatment. The treatment open door acknowledges the complexity and nuance of treatment and reflects the research about the need for multiple opportunities to remain engaged. When police policy allows multiple deflections of the same individuals, as in Pima and Charleston Counties, it means every interaction with individuals is another opportunity to engage them in treatment while eliminating the collateral consequences of the legal system and jail for these vulnerable populations.

In both counties, if the offense is eligible, the policy allows police to offer deflection to an individual regardless of how many times they offered deflection to the individual in the past. This means that while the policy itself reflects the research on multiple opportunities to engage in treatment, police in practice have the ultimate decision-making authority to deflect or arrest. As a result, police hold a lot of decision-making power for triaging people out of the legal system revolving door, and into a treatment system revolving door. As we continue to unpack how officers make decisions about who to deflect and under what conditions, it is important to consider the intersection of race, gender, and disability and how that impacts officer decision-making about who is “worthy” of deflection.

Officers in Pima County reported people’s willingness to start treatment as the most critical factor when deciding to deflect to a community-based resource. When people did not want to initiate treatment, officers tended to rely on arrest, even when they knew that jail would not help the individual. But the ability to deflect for certain eligible offenses means that the police have determined that no arrest is an acceptable response. This tension demands a critical examination: If people do not wish to go into treatment, are there other ways officers can diffuse and handle the situation without relying on arrest?

Officers in Charleston County cited victims’ wishes—including those of business owners—as the most critical factor when deciding whether or not to begin the process of deflection. For example, when victims remain at the scene and want police to arrest the individual, even when the offense is deflection-eligible and the officer recognizes jail is not helpful, police expressed feeling inclined to defer to the victim and make the arrest, anyway. This means victims are, in part, driving who is offered deflection and potentially contributing to disparate deflections. As such, we must critically examine the role of victims in the deflection initiation process and consider how victims’ own perceptions of justice and implicit bias can temper the positive impact of police-led deflection programs.

“Deflection first, arrest rare” as both policy and principle connects vulnerable individuals, who are historically excluded from the services they need, with easy access to treatment. It also lessens opportunities for implicit bias, determinations of “worthiness,” and non-clinical judgments about readiness for change to impact the decision to deflect. When agencies distance themselves from jail and deflect as the primary response, and do so for everyone, they no longer make access to treatment conditional or contingent.