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Changing the Narrative: The Prosecutor’s Role in Fostering Connections to Community-Based Care

NCJ Number
Date Published
April 2023
11 pages

This document provides guidance on how to support equitable connections to community-based treatment and supports for people with behavioral health needs; it also details what prosecutors can do in their capacity, offers tips for determining whom they may want to partner with, and suggests practical actions prosecutors can take to support diversion efforts locally.


This brief addresses concerns of behavioral health professionals, community advocates, and criminal justice leaders, over the challenges of decreasing the overrepresentation of people with behavioral health needs in the justice system. It is divided into sections that promote understanding of people with behavioral health needs in the criminal justice system; describe the prosecutor’s role in fostering connections to care, including how to facilitate connections to community-based treatments and supports; how to get started building knowledge on behavioral health diversion, and building prosecutor-led programs, establishing cross-system partnerships, engaging victims of crimes, navigating limitations; and lists nine practical actions that prosecutors can take that will support equitable diversion opportunities for people with behavioral health needs.

Date Published: April 1, 2023