Statement of Alice Dembner, program director for Community Catalyst’s Substance Use Disorders Project

(BOSTON) — “Community Catalyst is pleased to support the Obama Administration’s new Data-Driven Justice Initiative (DDJ) to divert people with mental illness who commit low-level offenses to services instead of sending them to jail or prison. This White House initiative, involving 67 city, county and state governments to date, dovetails with Community Catalyst’s existing work to divert people with drug and alcohol problems from incarceration.

“Locking people up for non-violent crimes related to drug and alcohol issues or mental illness is overcrowding our jails and prisons and failing to reduce addiction. Smart investments in health and social services through a pre-arrest diversion program are a more cost-effective way to help people achieve healthier lives. Instead of going to jail, people are diverted to a broad range of coordinated services, from housing supports to counseling to treatment for mental illness and substance use.

“In support of the Data-Driven Justice Initiative, Community Catalyst has pledged to provide support and technical assistance to participating jurisdictions by sharing best practices for engaging consumer organizations in these initiatives. Community Catalyst will conduct a national webinar, post a publicly accessible recording on its website, encourage consumer advocates to participate in these initiatives, and share contacts and strategies to help hospitals engage in data-driven diversion initiatives. 

“We are committed to this initiative and others that fight injustice, improve the health of consumers and often reduce costs in the process.”


About Community Catalyst
Community Catalyst is a national, non-profit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1998 with the belief that affordable, quality health care should be accessible to everyone. We work in partnership with national, state and local organizations, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to ensure consumer interests are represented wherever important decisions about health and the health system are made: in communities, courtrooms, statehouses and on Capitol Hill. For more information, visit Read our blog at Follow us on Twitter @healthpolicyhub.