New Vera research brief on treatment alternatives to incarceration and potential cost savings

By , February 21, 2013

Earlier this month, the Vera Institute of Justice’s Substance Use and Mental Health Program (SUMH) published a research summary describing how, with treatment and access to community-based services, people with behavioral health disorders are “less likely to be incarcerated and more likely to lead healthy, productive lives, resulting in substantial costs savings.”

The six-page publication, “Treatment Alternatives to Incarceration for People with Mental Health Needs in the Criminal Justice System: The Cost-Savings Implications,” discusses four categories of treatment alternatives—prevention (through law enforcement, crisis intervention teams, and community-based services), jail diversion, courts, and community reentry planning—and explains how each one works and how it can save money. The brief also describes ways that the Affordable Care Act presents opportunities “to bolster treatment alternatives, enhance treatment capacity in the community, and save states and local jurisdictions money.”

Jim Parsons, director of SUMH, writes that by compiling research on the potential benefits and cost savings of providing treatment as an alternative to incarceration, the brief is intended to help decision makers and practitioners “as they consider more cost-effective and humane policy options.”

Have a comment or a question? Please post it below, e-mail us, or contact us via Twitter or Facebook.

One comment

  1. The research brought together in this report is impressive and much needed but I am not sure of the implications as the conclusions are vague. Do you agree with the following ukases for state and local governments to establish universally (or at least in any community over a certain size such as 25000):
    1. CIT´s in police agencies
    2. jail MH diversion
    3. mental health courts
    4. community reentry planning
    If so, how would you ensure that some of the savings from doing these actions to mass incarceration would be reinvested in these four programs. In my book Less Law, More Order, I have proposed ways to do this, but I am interested in any other ways.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>