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The Problem

Approximately 2 million times each year, people who have serious mental illnesses are admitted to jails across the nation. Almost three-quarters of these adults also have substance use disorders. Once incarcerated, individuals with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and, upon release, are at a higher risk of returning to incarceration than people without these illnesses.

But this problem doesn’t just lie with jails. Many community members who interact with the justice system are also in repeated contact with 911 dispatch, emergency rooms, homeless services, and behavioral health clinics—cycling through costly services that rarely provide the long-term care and support they need. As a result, local systems are overwhelmed with challenges that limit their ability to serve community members comprehensively and effectively.