Monday, February 04, 2008

Citizens being warehoused in jails

It is estimated that 16 percent of our jail population is seriously mentally ill. On any given day in the Roanoke Valley, there are about 162 citizens with a serious mental illness being warehoused in our jails. And because they won't be treated by the mental health system, they become the responsibility of the criminal justice system. It is cost shifting of the most cynical kind. It is a return to the 19th-century method of care for our mentally ill citizens.

As a taxpayer, I am outraged at the fraud of this cost-shifting from the mental health system to the criminal justice system. As both a criminal justice and a mental health professional, I am ashamed.

- Roanoke Times op-ed by Isaac T. Van Patten, chairman of the Department of Criminal Justice at Radford University and the principal investigator for a federally funded CIT program and a jail diversion program for the mentally ill

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