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Criminal Justice Reform

BHSB supports criminal justice system reforms that redirect spending for incarceration toward the behavioral health system and support public health interventions to improve access to treatment and rehabilitation services.

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD)

Public safety officials often find themselves on the front lines of responding to behavioral health crises but have few resources available to address the needs of people with serious behavioral health conditions. Meanwhile, people with substance use disorders and mental illness are over-represented in jails and prisons: 65 percent of inmates meet the criteria for a substance use disorder, and more than half have a mental illness.

A new pilot program, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), provides a way for public safety officials to work with behavioral health providers by diverting low-level drug offenders to treatment and support services, rather than jail and prosecution. Care is provided through intensive interventions such as assertive community treatment, residential substance use disorder services, comprehensive case management, medication assisted treatment, and other support services. LEAD can show that treatment and recovery supports improve health and reduce recidivism.

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT)

BHSB collaborates with the Baltimore Police Department to utilize the Crisis Intervention Team (CIT), which is a nationally recognized model for community policing that has proven to keep those experiencing mental illness out of jails and improve public safety. CIT helps to improve officers’ ability to address behavioral health crises and ensure safety of officers, individuals in crisis, and bystanders.

CIT training results in officers having the knowledge and ability to:

  • Reduce stigmatization of persons with mental illness
  • Prevent unnecessary restraint, incarceration, and hospitalization
  • Help prevent injury to officers, family members, and individuals in crisis
  • Link individuals with mental illness to treatment and resources in the community