Issue Brief

Human Toll of Jail Interagency Collaboration Mental Health July 30, 2017

Diversion, Not Discrimination: How Implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act Can Help Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illness in Jails

Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law

This paper discusses why people with mental illness are over-represented in local justice systems and how the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)–which has far-reaching requirements for public services provided by state, county, and local entities–can be used to strengthen diversion efforts and reduce jail populations. While the specific strategies adopted will vary depending on local circumstances, understanding the obligations the ADA imposes on public entities–including local mental health, criminal justice, and correctional programs–and the opportunities that arise when those obligations are addressed will assist sites in achieving the SJC goals.