Mental health diversion is an important option for offenders with mental illness who do not pose a serious risk to public safety and who would otherwise be better served outside the criminal justice system. Predictors of complete vs. incomplete diversion were examined in a sample of 708 defendants seen in Toronto’s mental health diversion programs. Univariate analyses revealed that unsuccessfully diverted defendants were significantly more likely to be younger, homeless, and have more clinical and legal needs compared to those who were successfully diverted. In multivariate analyses, criminological factors (e.g., criminal history) had the strongest association with diversion completion, compared to clinical (e.g., primary diagnosis) and psychosocial (e.g., employment status) factors outside of marital status, which was strongly associated with completion. The results from this research add to previous research on mental health courts and diversion by giving guidance on how to select and prepare diversion candidates. These findings suggest that diversion programs may benefit from adaptations in order to better suit high need clients.

Michael C. Seto, Sonya Basarke, Lindsay V. Healey & Frank Sirotich
International Journal of Forensic Mental Health, 15 Jan 2018