Friday, July 14, 2006

Pad the cells or stop arrests?

Some jails and prisons have responded to the ever-increasing population of incarcerated people with severe mental illnesses by creating special mental health units or adding padding to cells.

It is so bad in some places that courts are ordering prisons to do a better job for inmates with severe mental illnesses.

Yet too often you hear people say that someone will finally get help now that they have been arrested.

Where is the disconnect?

Diversion programs and tools like mental health courts can save lives - but still don't come into play until after someone is arrested. Assisted outpatient treatment keeps people in the civil court system and doesn't require them to first commit a crime.