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Expanding Mental Health Diversion Opportunities: A Prospective Evaluation of the Los Angeles County Intake Booking Diversion Program

Award Information

Award #
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Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $754,209)

Statement of the Problem. A growing body of research suggests that the arrest and incarceration of individuals with mental illness fails to improve treatment or recidivism outcomes and puts other inmates and correctional officers at risk. At the same time, patrol officers acting as first-responders often have few practical alternatives to arrest when responding to mental health crisis calls. Co-responder models that pair mental health professionals with first-responding officers to improve de-escalation and diversion to treatment at the point of arrest show promise, but are largely unstudied in terms of efficacy. In response to this critical research gap, the Center for Justice Innovation (Center) proposes to work with the Los Angeles County Sherriff’s Department (LASD) to conduct a formative process evaluation of the newly developed Intake Booking Diversion program (IBD).


Design, Methods, and Analysis. The proposed formative process evaluation will involve (1) stakeholder and staff interviews; focus groups with assistant deputies from patrol divisions; and program observations and (2) descriptive analysis of outcome data. These activities will serve to document the successes and challenges of early IBD program development and implementation.  Interview, observation, and focus group data will be analyzed to identify patterns across respondent type, observational situation, or interview domain.


For the outcome analysis, we will collect and analyze booking, treatment, and recidivism data provided by our LASD partners to examine: (1) whether the IBD program improves early identification of individuals with mental illness; (2) whether diversion through IBD increases treatment engagement or reduces recidivism and future calls for service associated with mental health crises; (3) whether the IBD program improves safety for LASD deputies (in the field or jail facility) and individuals in mental health crisis.


Subjects. This process evaluation will involve interviews and focus groups data from up to 50 staff and stakeholders involved in IBD development and implementation. The outcome evaluation will be a case-level analysis of 400 individuals booked through IBD and 400 booked through comparison station houses, for a total sample size of up to 800.


Products, Reports, and Data Archiving. The research team will produce a summary of major findings to be submitted to NIJ, along with one or more practitioner-oriented deliverables designed to help facilitate translation of the IBD model to new law enforcement agencies.  Dissemination will also occur through conferences, local presentations, and the Center’s multimedia strategy. All data will be archived in accordance with NIJ requirements. CA/NCF

Date Created: September 18, 2023