By: Kristine Alarcon
Edited by: Juliana Zhu, Esq.
Throughout the US, nearly 360,000 mentally ill people are incarcerated instead of being admitted into psychiatric hospitals.
Tazewell County in Washington, Illinois is on its way to develop a program that could aid non-violent defendants with mental health issues. It will include improvements for monitoring and treatment services. The aim of the program would be to treat those who require treatment rather than arrest them.
However, the program will not completely prevent law enforcers from incriminating mentally ill who commit violent crimes. For these inmates, the mental health therapy will still be available.
The program is not a new program to Washington, Illinois as other counties have implemented them. It initially started in 2010 and five years later, there have been an average of 22 mental health cases in McLean County and 35 mental health cases in Peoria County.
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Tazewell County Attorney Stewart Umholtz believes the program is a sound investment for those with troubles with the legal system.
Dennis McGuire, coordinator for the Recovery Court in McLean County, says that there was “a continuous turnaround of (jail) bookings” for those with social anxiety, low-level schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder, and depression.
For the program in Tazewell County, it is recommended that a team of a judge, court personnel, probation officers, therapists, or counselors help monitor a person’s behavior while in jail. Their mental health can be evaluated and they can seek the help they need. It is important that professionals will be working with them.
Tazewell County’s program is still in the planning stage and there is still a need to prepare for paying and arranging for these types of services.
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Kristine Alarcon is certified in Sterile Processing and Distribution in California and is pursing a Masters in Public Health at Drexel University. She is a Social Media Assistant at Cancer InCytes Magazine.
Smothers, Michael. “County seeks to treat, not jail, mentally ill.” Washington Times. Retrieved on September 3, 2015. http://www.washingtontimesreporter.com/article/20150902/NEWS/150909960
Photo Credit: http://www.christianpost.com/news/reaching-out-to-the-mentally-ill-97346/