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Mecklenburg County Recovery Solutions: A Jail Diversion Continuum

Goal: Less Jail, More Treatment
Nationally, a large majority of individuals in the justice system have mental illness and co-occurring substance use disorders, and the same is true locally. For years, Mecklenburg County has taken the lead collaborating to promote recovery for this population by collaborating with the court system, Public Defender’s Office, District Attorney’s Office,  Sheriff’s Office, law enforcement, Community Corrections and the Department of Juvenile Justice. The Recovery Solutions collaborative meets monthly to identify gaps and address service needs.

The Case for Jail Diversion
People with mental illness:
  • Are more likely to be arrested
  • Face more serious charges
  • Receive stiffer sentences
  • Serve longer
  • Can't make bail (lack income)
  • Have more difficulty coping - more behavior problems, sanctions, and infractions in prison
  • Are more vulnerable to being exploited and manipulated by other inmates
  • Often not identified in jail
  • Often prescribed cheaper substitute medications in jail 


NC HB 1493 Section 10.49 (f) requires (within available resources)

  • Standardized screening instrument
  • A designated employee to screen daily jail booking log for known mental health consumers
  • Protocols for effective communication between the LME and jail staff
  • Training to help detention officers recognize signs of mental illness


About the Mecklenburg County Jail Diversion Continuum

A collaborative group, working over the past 5 years, meets quarterly and focuses on:

  1. Post-booking jail diversion
    • Jail Diversion Clinician at Jail Central (Melissa Zhiss, 704-962-4871)
    • Mental Health Court (Janeanne Tourtellott, 704-686-0300)
    • Clinician in the Public Defender's Office (Sharlise Spindle, 704-347-7870)
    • MeckFUSE - a housing program for individuals who have spent time in jail and shelters
  2. Pre-booking jail diversion
    • Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT)
    • Mobile Crisis (704-566-3410)
    • Crisis Stabilization Unit (proposed)


Links and Contacts

For more information about this program, contact
Sarah Greene, 980-314-8620​,  Program Administrator of Trauma and Justice Partnerships


Mailing Address:

Mecklenburg County Public Health
249 Billingsley Road
Charlotte, NC 28211

Office Location:

Mecklenburg County Public Health
249 Billingsley Road
Charlotte, NC 28211



Hours: Mon-Fri 8 a.m - 5 p.m.


Please do not send confidential information via email.