The Post-Arrest Diversion Program at Broward Regional Health Planning Council, Inc., seeks to divert individuals with serious and persistent mental illness from the criminal justice system and into a structured, outpatient treatment protocol. Prerequisites to program eligibility include a history of non-violent, 3rd-degree felony charges, and a history of mental illness, specifically concerning serious, long-term mental illnesses. Determination of program eligibility is a collaborative effort between the State Attorney’s Office, the Public Defender’s Office, and the Mental Health Diversion Program by way of the referral process. Once the State concludes that the individual has met the legal criteria for The Program, an evaluation request is sent to The Program for this individual.
The defendant is then evaluated by The Program to determine whether the mental health criteria is satisfied; evaluations include The Program’s preferred interview and psychological assessment battery, which examines symptom validity, psychiatric symptoms, cognitive ability, and risk factors. Evaluations are conducted at Broward Regional Health Planning Council, Inc., and supervised by The Program’s Licensed Psychologist. The evaluation process for each individual is conducted in approximately two hours. Results of the evaluation are scored and interpreted to form a comprehensive diversion report. Upon completion, the diversion report is submitted to the State Attorney’s Office with a diagnostic opinion and recommendation for program participation.
If a history of severe and persistent mental illness in corroborated by the report, the individual meets mental health criteria for the diversion program. Evaluation results indicate if the patient is able to comply with all therapeutic and legal aspects of the program for a duration of one year. During the first 6 months of The Program, clients are expected to attend weekly psycho-educational group therapy sessions, partake in individual insight-oriented psychotherapy, and receive medication management from a physician. Psycho-educational group therapy provided by the Diversion Program is Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT). MRT is an evidence-based, cognitive-behavioral approach for substance abuse treatment and criminal justice offenders. Clients are also provided with intensive case management, weekly individual therapy sessions, psychiatric services, and medication management, in addition to housing and vocational services. Individual therapy is also evidence-based and adheres to the basic principles of cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational enhancement, and intensive psychosocial support. During the second half of the program, clients are expected to continue with individual therapy, psychiatric services, and medication management, as needed; group therapy sessions and intensive case management are reduced from weekly to monthly services, case management is tapered to as needed on a case by case basis.
The diversion evaluation protocol consists of 3 phases; 1- initial assessment (indicates the presence of mental illness, 2-step-down (determines readiness to advance to phase 2 of a program), and 3-termination (determines readiness to discharge from the program and have felony charge dismissed by SAO. Upon discharge, the participants will be connected to community mental health providers to continue treatment in order to further stabilize your mental health condition. Each evaluation is meant to serve as a clinical marker of current concerns regarding cognitive ability, psychiatric symptoms, symptom validity, and risk factors.
Nova Southeastern Doctoral Students contribute by participating in clinical activates conducted at BRHPC.