Gender-specific participation and outcomes among jail diversion clients with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Men and women with co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illness are at relatively high risk for becoming involved in the criminal justice system. Programs, such as post-booking jail diversion, aim to connect these individuals to community-based treatment services in lieu of pursuing criminal prosecution. Gender appears to have an important influence on risk factors and pathways through the criminal justice system, which in turn may influence how interventions like jail diversion work to engage men and women in treatment services and reduce recidivism. Different circumstances, levels of engagement, and outcomes by gender may be related to both person-level characteristics and external factors such as availability of gender-specific services and resources. This mixed-methods study identified specific ways in which men and women use services and reoffend after being diverted, and complemented those findings with in-depth insights from program clinicians about how program experiences and resources differ in important ways by gender. We matched and merged administrative records from 2007 to 2009 for 16,233 adults from several state agencies in Connecticut, and included data on demographic characteristics, clinical diagnoses, outpatient and inpatient behavioral health treatment utilization, arrest, and incarceration. Using propensity analysis, the 1693 men and women who participated in the statewide jail diversion program were matched to respective comparison groups of nondiverted men and women. We used longitudinal multivariable regression analyses to estimate the effects of jail diversion participation on treatment utilization, arrest, and incarceration, separately for men and women. We conducted three focus groups with jail diversion clinicians from around the state (n = 21) to gain in-depth insight from them about how circumstances, program experiences, and resources differ by gender in important ways; these subjective clinician insights complement the quantitative analyses of diversion outcomes for men and women. For both men and women, diversion was associated with reductions in risk for incarceration and increases in utilization of outpatient treatment services. For men only, diversion was associated with higher utilization of inpatient mental health care. No differences in treatment or criminal justice outcomes were observed in models that compared men and women directly. Major themes from the focus groups included: the existence of too few inpatient and residential resources for women with co-occurring disorders; different challenges to treatment engagement that men and women face; and a need for more effective, gender-specific services for all program participants. Results from this mixed-methods study offer information on gender-specific program outcomes and surrounding circumstances that can help programs to better understand and address unique risks and needs for men and women with co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders who are involved in the criminal justice system.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Robertson, AG; Easter, MM; Lin, H-J; Khoury, D; Pierce, J; Swanson, J; Swartz, M

Published Date

  • August 2020

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 115 /

Start / End Page

  • 108035 -

PubMed ID

  • 32600621

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC7384303

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1873-6483

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0740-5472

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1016/j.jsat.2020.108035


  • eng