[HUNTSVILLE, AL] – WellStone announces the launch of a Jail Diversion Program in collaboration with Madison County Jail. The Jail Diversion Program identifies detainees who are eligible for release, either under supervision or directly to the community, who have continuing mental health care needs. The goal of the program is to reduce the recidivism rate many mental health consumers experience due to the inability to access the continuum of care, post incarceration. Under this program, WellStone case managers are assigned to inmates based upon input from Community Corrections, the Madison County Jail, the Huntsville Police Chief, the Madison County Sheriff, the Huntsville Municipal Judge and the Madison County Circuit Judge.

WellStone’s Jail Diversion Program is a strategic initiative to bridge the gap between the corrections system and mental health services when both face extremely limited resources. The vast majority of mentally ill inmates are arrested for simple bizarre behavior or non-violent minor crimes, and yet they spend an average of 15 months longer in jail for the same charges as non-mentally ill prisoners. The Madison County jail population follows similar trends. Currently, mentally ill inmates compose 20-25% of the overall Madison County jail population.

WellStone Chief Clinical Officer Josaylon Wade describes the program as a practical program to address the challenges of deinstitutionalization, a process which sometimes left the mentally ill under the care of the criminal justice system. Wade shares, “It is far more cost-effective to provide the resources inmates need to rejoin the community in a safe and productive manner than it is to hold them within the corrections system. When an inmate is ready for release, we are here to give them additional support to ensure they thrive. Given the proper guidance and resources, their chances for success improve dramatically.”

WellStone Probate Court Liaison Tammy Leeth was promoted to Program Manager for the Jail Diversion Program. Leeth will oversee a staff of two full-time case managers. Leeth shares, “We have two important goals with this program. First, we want to help our clients build a foundation for healthy living in our community. Second, we want to lessen the long-term burden on the corrections system. We expect that this program will deliver significant cost savings to the corrections system within the first year.”

WellStone’s CEO Jeremy Blair adds, “The Jail Diversion Program is the result of a year-long planning process and collaboration with the North Alabama Mental Health Coalition. We applaud the Madison County Corrections System and Judicial System for their commitment to this process. We are also grateful for the willingness of Chairman Strong and the Madison County Commission as well as Mayor Battle and the Huntsville City Council to fund this innovative pilot program. By working together, we can provide greater continuity of care and services on the path towards rehabilitation.”

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About Wellstone Inc.: WellStone Inc. is a non-profit community organization that provides mental health and substance abuse services supporting the integrated health of the whole person. WellStone operates 12 facilities throughout North Alabama and Cullman. WellStone is certified through the Alabama Department of Mental Health. WellStone offers programs for children, adolescents, adults, substance abuse, school-based outreach, community services and more. For more information, visit www.wellstone.com. Additional media inquiries can be directed to the Communications Office by emailing pr@wellstone.com or by calling (256) 705-6301.