From Shepherd Express:
There’s a growing recognition that jail isn’t the best place for those with a mental health issue who have committed low-level offenses.
Now, thanks to a $2 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, Milwaukee County will be implementing strategies to provide support to those with a mental illness to keep them out of jail.
The Milwaukee Community Justice Council—a collaboration of local law enforcement, behavioral health experts, judges, prosecutors, defenders and corrections staff—was one of just 11 jurisdictions that won the foundation’s national Safety and Justice Challenge in April.
With the stated goal of reducing racial and ethnic disparities in the justice system, the Milwaukee grant is aiming to shrink the average daily jail population by 18% over two years by targeting low-level offenders who need mental health help. Since people of color are overrepresented in our local jails, the new grant will have its greatest impact on African American and Latino Milwaukeeans who are in the criminal justice system.
The new initiative represents a turning point in the local criminal justice system’s treatment of individuals whose offenses are linked to their mental health issues. An estimated 35% of those in the county jail and House of Correction receive psychotropic medication.
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