Jail Diversion

MCES Has An Ongoing Role in Reducing Incarceration Risk

It is not well known, but MCES was largely created to divert persons with chronic mental illness from possible imprisonment because of behavior related to symptoms of their illness.

In the early 1970s, deinstitutionalization saw thousands of patients depart state hospitals. Montgomery County was no exception. Patients left Norristown State Hospital with the expectation that they would receive ongoing care as needed in the community.

This did not always happen. Some patients did not engage with providers, stopped taking medications, and manifested behaviors putting them in contact with police.

At the time, crisis services did not exist and police had to take persons appearing to be a danger to themselves or others into custody. This often led to incarceration at the county prison where two former state hospital patients died by suicide.

MCES was formed in response to be a place police officers could take persons suspected of mental illness for evaluation. MCES is an interface between the mental health and criminal justice systems offering both emergency psychiatric care and justice-related services.

Our commitment to jail diversion remains. Our Crisis Department and EMS collaborate with police and other providers to divert persons with mental illness from criminal justice involvement. Our Crisis Intervention Specialist (CIS) Program gives police officers skills necessary to identify and aid persons with possible mental illness.