THE MENTALLY ILL NEED TREATMENT (NOT JAIL)
Natasha McKenna is just the most recent example of what can happen to the mentally ill once they are incarcerated, with no access to treatment. People with mental health conditions deserve just as much support, compassion, and treatment as people with physical health conditions. We wouldn't throw someone in jail who just had a stroke or a heart attack. We don't think that the mentally ill belong there, either. However, without an active diversion program with a funded and functioning drop off center, the mentally ill will continue to be warehoused in our county jails. Forward thinking Bexar County, Texas has data showing their humane policies for diverting mentally ill prisoners into treatment has actually saved their county money. There are many other examples of diversion efforts from around the country - including Arlington and Prince William Counties in Virginia. Montgomery County, Maryland also has an active diversion program.
Once the mentally ill are diverted, they need treatment, case management, and housing, to support their recovery.
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