Opening Spring 2024
The Center for Diversion and Services will provide alternatives to placing people in the County jail and City detention center who experience behavioral health concerns. The Center for Diversion and Services, known as “the Center,” will be a facility at which law enforcement officers and first responders can transport individuals who are in need of help to address problems such as mental health issues, substance abuse, and/or extreme poverty. In the past, these persons would normally be taken to a jail or detention center or a hospital emergency room.
Peer specialists at the Center will help address immediate basic needs such as food and showers, while partner agencies will provide physical and mental health screenings, basic first aid, and connections to housing, health care and other stabilizing resources. The Center will also offer a place for sobering and offer care navigators to provide ongoing case management.
The idea for the Center grew out of multiple parallel initiatives—including the County’s Justice Reform and Mental Health Task Force and the City of Atlanta’s Reimagining ACDC initiative.
Who Can Access Services at the Diversion Center?
The Center will accept individuals who are diverted through Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), a joint initiative of the City and County that is coordinated by PAD. LEAD allows law enforcement officers to use their discretion to offer pre-arrest diversion to individuals who have substantial needs related to mental health, substance use or extreme poverty. People who have had multiple contacts with the criminal legal system and are at high risk for recidivism, those who are typically excluded or underserved by existing programs and those disproportionally impacted by racial disparities in policing, arrests and sentencing will be prioritized for diversion. People who are suspected of violent crimes, present a substantial risk of harm to self or others, who are under 17 years old or have pending charges will not be eligible for the diversion program.
The Center will also welcome individuals who do not meet criteria for admission at Grady’s psychiatric emergency room but may benefit from additional care and assistance in navigating substance-abuse, housing, and mental-health resources in the community.
Where Will the Center be Located?
The Center will be located within the underutilized space within the Atlanta City Detention Center (ACDC)—separated from jail operations with its own entrance. It is expected to open in Spring 2024.
Potential Benefits of the Center
Potential to divert 10,500 jail bookings annually from ACDC and Fulton County jail
Potential to divert 4,400 police custody admissions from Grady’s ER and Psychiatric ER Services
Until now first responders have had limited options in where to take individuals in need of support services who are at risk of arrest. The Center advances county and city goals to reduce de facto use of jails as crisis centers.
Read the full press release HERE