Police departments have become the front line of mental health treatment, and jails and prisons are the primary caretakers, a New York City conference was told yesterday.
Mental health practitioners told a gathering of more than two dozen journalists that decades of reduced budgets for community mental health programs and state hospitals, paired with “tough on crime” legislation and “War on Drugs” policies, have effectively criminalized mental illness.
Nevertheless, some communities are developing innovative approaches aimed at diverting individuals into alternative treatment or specialized mental health courts before they are trapped in a system that invariably worsens their condition, the journalists were told.
A national initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jails was launched this week in a partnership between the National Association of Counties, the Council of State Governments (CSG) Justice Center and the American Psychiatric Foundation.
The initiative is aimed at bringing together many of the best practices underway to develop models that can be emulated by local governments and law enforcement, said Gerard Murphy, deputy director of the CSG’s National Initiatives program, told the group meeting at John Jay College of Criminal Justice…
Originally posted on The Crime Report
Read @ The Crime Report