Mental Illness, Untreated Behind Bars

February 27, 2017

The New York Times

By The Editorial Board

President Trump has talked quite a bit about cracking down on a nonexistent crime wave. Rarely does he talk about the different kinds of support law enforcement needs or what actually keeps communities safe.

So it might have come as a surprise to him when a member of the National Sheriffs’ Association at a White House meeting earlier this month brought up an urgent problem sheriffs’ offices all face — the mental health crisis that has filled jails to bursting with mentally ill people who would be more effectively dealt with through treatment.

Mr. Trump acknowledged that “prison should not be a substitute for treatment” and said his administration would try to address this challenge. A good start would be to extend the public health system into jails and prisons, which take in the poorest and most illness-prone people in society.

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