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Data Driven Jail Management: Diverting Low-Risk and Mentally Ill Offenders

Published: November 10, 2016
Josh Jaquish is a technology and business consulting executive with nearly 20 years of experience. Read More

Today, America’s largest mental health facilities are often our local jails. 64 percent of people in local jails across the nation suffer from mental illness; 68 percent have a substance abuse disorder; and 44 percent suffer from chronic health problems. Many of these prisoners receive fragmented and uncoordinated care at great cost to their well-being, with poor outcomes when they cycle repeatedly not just through local jails, but also hospital emergency rooms, shelters, and other public systems.

Cycling the mentally ill through local jails is also expensive for taxpayers. Florida's Miami-Dade County found that just 97 people with serious mental illness accounted for $13.7 million in services over four years, spending more than 39,000 days in either jail, emergency rooms, state hospitals, or psychiatric facilities throughout the region.

It's less expensive to treat mentally ill members of the community if they are kept out of jail. For instance, the average Michigan inmate cost the state over $34,000 last year. In contrast, the annual cost of case management for mentally ill people in Michigan is only $2,165 per person. A more intensive program, the popular Assertive Community Treatment, costs the state $9,029 per person per year—still 83% less than incarceration expenses.

White House Initiative

To reduce the number of mentally ill or low-risk offenders in jail, the White House Administration launched the Data-Driven Justice Initiative (DDJ) with a bipartisan coalition of 67 city, county and state governments that have committed to using data-driven strategies.

DDJ jail communities are taking new steps to link data from across the criminal justice and health systems to: identify the highest-need, highest-cost individuals who have come into frequent contact with law enforcement or emergency services; proactively link those individuals to supportive services that provide stability; decrease encounters with law enforcement; and reduce the costly overreliance on emergency medical treatment.

Local police departments are responding to the data-driven justice initiative recommendations by:
  • Using open data to increase transparency, build community trust and support innovation
  • Using better technology, such as early warning systems, to identify problems, increase internal accountability, and decrease inappropriate uses of force

Additionally, DDJ communities have committed to helping police and first responders divert those in a mental health crisis to a more appropriate alternative to jail or the emergency room.

Data Driven Jail Management

Tribridge Offender360 data driven jail management fits right into these White House goals. Core functionality includes a Community Corrections module which allows criminal justice practitioners, treatment providers and county commissioners to work together for implementation of data-driven plans.

Built on Microsoft Dynamics, Tribridge Offender360 provides correctional and other public safety institutions with a scalable, cost-effective tool for managing offenders from intake to release. For more information about Tribridge Offender360, contact us today.

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