At Greenspun Shapiro we are happy to learn about and report a new Diversion First initiative in Fairfax County. The goal of this initiative is “reducing the number of people with mental illness in local jails by diverting non-violent offenders experiencing mental health crises to treatment instead of incarceration”.
As a criminal defense law firm, we have represented a number of clients who live with moderate to severe mental illness. Some of these charges, sadly, leave those who are emotionally challenged at such a low point that they feel no other choice than to take their own lives. Many of these charges stemmed from a misunderstanding between the accused and the officer or family member. This is unacceptable.
How will Diversion First benefit those living with mental illness?
We believe that Diversion First will begin to offer more effective resources needed in order to provide non-violent offenders with mental illness the help they deserve.
As the Washington Post reports, these resources include:
- Ongoing Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training for local law enforcement,
- A therapeutic Crisis Assessment Site at the Community Services Board’s Merrifield Center, where police will be able to take offenders instead of transporting them to jail,
- A second CSB Mobile Crisis Unit, and
- A Mental Health Docket in Fairfax County.
At Greenspun Shapiro, because we believe the affirmative interaction between those living with mental illness and the court system are so necessary, we are involved with the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Northern Virginia, whose advocacy team has contributed to efforts to put Diversion First into place. We hope that Diversion First is just one important step in improving these interactions.
If you or a loved one is living with mental illness and is involved with the justice system, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Greenspun Shapiro PC today.