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New Jail Diversion Program

Friday, August 25, 2006

The Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office (LPSO) and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals are excited to announce a new jail diversion program for non-violent, mentally ill offenders. This collaborative effort teams LPSO and Region IV Office of Mental Health.

The Mental Health Jail Diversion Program is slated to begin in October 2006 and efforts are currently underway to hire staff consisting of one mental health professional and three caseworkers. This program, made by possible by a two-year grant, was originally awarded to New Orleans. Due to Hurricane Katrina implementation of this program is not possible in that area at this time. The $400,000 a year has been made available to Lafayette Parish.

When inmates are incarcerated for more than 30 days, federal law stipulates that social security benefits are suspended. Upon release, these individuals must reapply for benefits which could take up to six months to receive. This lapse in benefits can be detrimental to a mentally ill patient reliant upon such resources to provide shelter and medication. This grant affords Lafayette Parish the opportunity to provide much needed mental health services to a non-violent population of mentally ill offenders after release.

Corrections and mental health professionals have met over the course of several months to identify the best methods of targeting prospective clients through the jail intake process and to collaborate on the implementation of this program. The Jail Diversion Program will be located at the Community Corrections Center on 100 Poydras Street in Lafayette and will assist approximately 25 clients.

Leah Dishong

Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office
337-231-6365 ext. 25