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The League presents "Diversion First" with Supervisor John Cook

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Reston Community Center

1609 Washington Plaza North

Lake Anne

Reston, VA 20190

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Come to learn more about Fairfax County's award-winning program, Diversion First. Supervisor John Cook of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors will present.

Diversion First offers alternatives to incarceration for people with mental illness or developmental disabilities who come into contact with the criminal justice system for low level offenses. The goal of Diversion First is to intercede whenever possible to provide people with assessment, treatment or other needed supports. People needing diversion may also have a substance use disorder, which often co-occurs with mental illness.

Diversion First was implemented because...

  • Too many people are in jail due to mental health issues. Jail is not the appropriate place to provide mental health treatment.
  • There is a need to prevent the incarceration of people with intellectual/developmental disabilities.
  • To intervene at the earliest point possible to de-escalate situations and avoid arrest.
  • It’s the right thing to do to offer treatment to people who need it, instead of jail being the default solution
  • It’s less costly for people to receive treatment instead of spending time in jail
  • Treatment offers hope by helping people recover and take control of their lives.
  • 1 in 5 Americans has a mental illness. Having a mental illness is not a crime.
  • Responding to recommendations from the Ad Hoc Police Practices Review Commission.
  • The Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution to support the national Stepping Up initiative to decriminalize mental illness.

View the one-page handout on Diversion First (PDF)

Diversion First participating agencies, including the police, sheriff and CSB, will providing resources for the event. For more information about Diverision First, go to: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/diversionfirst/

Long-time League Member, Therese Martin, notes, "Diversion First supports so many of the LWV’s positions. One of my earliest memories from the LWVFA was our concern about the number of persons with mental illness who were housed in the jail – the old jail behind the historic county courthouse."

Please join the League of Women Voters of Fairfax in welcoming Supervisor Cook.


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Reston Community Center

1609 Washington Plaza North

Lake Anne

Reston, VA 20190

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