CLEVELAND — Cleveland Mayor Justin Bibb announced Friday expanded eligibility requirements for any non-violent offender to participate in the Cleveland-County Diversion Center, a program aimed at individuals experiencing a mental or physical health crisis due to substance abuse and/or addiction, or for individuals with a history of experiencing a mental or physical crisis.
According to a news release from the city, the expanded use of the diversion center includes:
- Eliminating the need for pre-approval by a City Prosecutor and trusting Cleveland Police Officers to make the correct decision at the time of an arrest or stop;
- Dramatically expanding the range of non-violent offenses for which Diversion is permitted; and
- Protecting victims and complying with Marsy’s law by requiring officers to articulate and record their reasonable efforts to contact victims and the grounds for diversion.
Any non-violent misdemeanor offense can be eligible for screening into the center, except for any escalating misdemeanor such as domestic violence, menacing by stalking or an OVI. Expanded use does not include anyone with an offense that qualifies as a sex offense and an offense where physical harm results in medical assistance.
The 50-bed facility, with staff on-site 24/7, offers services that include assessment, medical evaluation, case management, counseling, medications, NAMI educational groups and linkage to other community services.
“The Diversion Center offers mental health services and is a proven model to reduce re-offending,” said Bibb in the news release. “It is critical that we re-prioritize City resources to help first responders deliver the right response at the right time and target the root causes of violent crime.”
Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish released the statement following the change:
“Our goal since the inception of the Diversion Center has been to connect individuals suffering from mental illness or substance abuse disorder with a direct resource that offers better treatment options and services than incarceration.
I applaud the Mayor’s decision to change the city’s policy and improve Cleveland Police Department participation in the program. We expect the City of Cleveland to be the largest single user that will take advantage of this County resource.
I look forward to our continued collaboration in utilizing this facility to its fullest capabilities to provide mentally-ill residents or those suffering from addiction with treatment services outside the criminal justice system.”
News 5 Cleveland has reached out to the mayor's office for an interview on the policy change.
Download the News 5 Cleveland app now for more stories from us, plus alerts on major news, the latest weather forecast, traffic information and much more. Download now on your Apple device here, and your Android device here.