New Efforts to Help People with Mental Illness Get Treatment Instead of Jail Time

August 4, 2015

The Diane Rehm Show
National Public Radio

President Barack Obama and some members of Congress are pushing for reforms in our criminal justice system. In particular, there’s bipartisan support to give judges more discretion in sentencing, but some say an even bigger problem is the fact that our jails and prisons are crowded with many people who don’t belong there in the first place. They pose no threat to public safety, but suffer from untreated mental illness. In some communities police, attorneys, judges and mental health service groups are working to change this: Join us to discuss new efforts to help people with mental illness stay out of jail and get into treatment.


  • Pete Earley, author of thirteen books. His best-seller, “Crazy: A Father’s Search Through America’s Mental Health Madness,” was a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize in 2007. He is a former Washington Post reporter. He is the father of an adult son diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
  • Evelyn Lundberg Stratton, attorney, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease; former justice, Ohio Supreme Court
  • Dr. Fred Osher, director of health systems and services policy, Council of State Governments Justice Center
  • Tom van Hemert, coordinator, Crisis Intervention Team, Thomas Jefferson Area, Virginia

Help Us Reduce the Number of
People with Mental Illnesses in Jails