Friday, October 26, 2007

Shouldering the burden of inadequate treatment

When we think about the added burden untreated mental illness causes for law enforcement, we often think of things like overcrowding in jails or the increased risk in responding to a call for someone who has been deemed an imminent danger.

But untreated mental illness also burdens law enforcement in less apparent ways. Take the case of Mark L. Jackson – a man who allegedly made multiple bomb threats in the Chesapeake, Virginia area. Obviously, every threat of this type must be taken seriously, requiring significant law enforcement resources and manpower. But this isn’t the sort of cost that can be easily included in a budget request – it’s simply another hidden cost of Virginia’s failure to provide effective mental health care.

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