Monday, November 14, 2005

Diversion and treatment for offenders

It isn’t hard to find examples of the real-world implications of the high population of mentally ill offenders in our jails and prisons. On November 13 alone, media coverage in Indiana, Oklahoma, and California. The consequences of jailing instead of treating are severe for both the overburdened system and the people who are ill.

So supporters of treatment for people with severe mental illness had many reasons to celebrate the recent passage and signing of the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act.

On Capitol Hill, however, "authorizing" is not the same as putting a check in the mail. Congress must then appropriate the actual monies, and it has been reluctant to follow through with the funding authorized for the law. Recently, however, $ 5 million was budgeted for the diversion and treatment grant program.