This article discusses the intersection of criminal justice and health care systems through diversion programs, and proposes a unified systems theory to improve evaluation, comparability, sustainability, resource allocation, and outcomes for justice-involved individuals.
There is a distinct lack of a normative theory for diversion of justice-involved individuals with mental illness at the intersection of the criminal justice and health care systems. The nexus where the criminal justice and health care systems are supposed to connect during diversion is not conceptually framed in a measurable way. The authors of this paper propose a potential systems theory of diversion that explicates the overlapping boundaries within and between the criminal justice and health care systems. From a systems perspective, diversion is operationalized differently depending on the entry of an individual with justice involvement and mental illness into one of the systems. The criminal justice and health care systems have multiple levels (micro-, meso-, and macro-), but individuals enter both systems at the respective systems intersection of the micro- and meso-levels. The theoretical disconnect may fail to consider the impact of criminal justice diversion on the health care system. The authors propose a unified systems theory of diversion to improve evaluation, comparability, sustainability, resource allocation, and outcomes of diversion programs. Publisher Abstract Provided
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