Criminal Justice Diversion Programs

What is this strategy?

Support pre-arrest or post-arrest diversion programs, or pre-trial service programs, that connect individuals involved or at risk of becoming involved in the justice system to addiction treatment, recovery support, harm reduction services, primary healthcare, prevention, or other services or supports they need, or that provide any of these services or supports.

Why diversion programs?

Justice diversion programs provide an alternative to incarceration for people with mental health and substance use conditions. These programs are intended to address the health and well-being of individuals instead of punishing them for exhibiting symptoms of their disease. Not only do these programs better serve individuals at risk of incarceration or otherwise becoming involved in the justice system, but they also better serve correctional staff members by more accurately pairing individuals with providers that can meet their unique needs not typically met by carceral settings.


  • Read about recommended strategies for adapting interventions to better support crisis response and pre-arrest diversion in rural communities
  • Watch a short video overview of recovery courts in North Carolina

Complete List of Resources

The following resources have been compiled by the NC Department of Health and Human Services to help local governments better understand this strategy.
The resources below are organized by level.

Jump to: Introductory Resources | Intermediate Resources Advanced Resources

Introductory Resources

Naloxone Saves

A harm reduction resource for North Carolina focusing on Naloxone

Recovery Courts

A 1-minute video overview of recovery courts in North Carolina

Quick Answers for Law Enforcement Personnel about Syringe Exchange Programs

Answers to commonly-asked questions about syringe exchange programs for law enforcement personnel

NC Harm Reduction Coalition Resources for Emergency Responders

Information from NC Harm Reduction Coalition about occupational exposures for emergency responder

Intermediate Resources

The Role of First Responders in the Opioid Epidemic

A description of the vital role that first responders play when responding to an opioid overdose

Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) Evaluation in NC

This comprehensive evaluation including information about LEAD participation and offers clear guidance for how programs can be strengthened to improve outcomes

Advanced Resources

Tailoring Crisis Response and Pre-Arrest Diversion Models for Rural Communities

Action brief that provides recommended strategies for adapting interventions to better support crisis response and pre-arrest diversion in rural communities (from SAMSHA)

Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) Programs: A Best Practice Guide for Transforming Community Responses to Mental Health Crises

A comprehensive guide for communities including best practices for starting and sustaining CIT programs

Jail-based Overdose Prevention Education and Naloxone Distribution Toolkit

A how-to toolkit for establishing a jail-based overdose prevention education program