KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

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Cities And Counties Try To Reduce Number Of Imprisoned Mentally Ill Through Training, Support Centers

A scathing report highlights the tough conditions for Illinois inmates who suffer from mental illnesses. At a Chicago jail, those problems will have to be tackled by a clinical psychologist who was appointed to lead the facility. Meanwhile, an Arizona jail where half the prisoners are Native American is taking a cultural approach to treating drug addictions.

Stateline: New Efforts To Keep The Mentally Ill Out Of Jail
In many places, police, judges and elected officials increasingly are pointing out that a high proportion of people in jail are mentally ill, and that in many cases they shouldn’t be there. In recent years, many cities and counties have tried to reduce those numbers by training police to deal with mental health crises, creating mobile mental health units to assist officers, and establishing mental health support centers as an alternative to jail, among other measures. ... Earlier this month, a coalition including the Council of State Governments Justice Center, the American Psychiatric Foundation and the National Association of Counties kicked off a national campaign to encourage local jurisdictions to collect data on the jailed mentally ill and adopt strategies to avoid incarceration. In February, the MacArthur Foundation announced it would send a total of $75 million to jurisdictions interested in reducing unnecessary incarceration of people, including the mentally ill. (Ollove, 5/19)

NPR: Clinical Psychologist To Head Chicago's Cook County Jail
Now a sign of just how entwined the criminal justice system is with mental illness. Next week, a clinical psychologist will take over as head of one of the country's largest jails - Cook County Jail in Chicago. On any given day, it houses some 9,000 inmates. Prison officials estimate that a third of them are mentally ill. (Block, 5/19)

NPR: Many Native American Communities Struggle With Effects Of Heroin Use
[Akimel O'odham tribe member Shannon] Rivers is a former addict. He says the reasons why Native Americans have such high rates of incarceration and substance abuse are complex. ... And there's a new problem: a recent FBI report shows the Mexican drug cartels are specifically targeting Indian Country. High unemployment on the reservations means many turn to trafficking and dealing. The cartels know the tribes lack law enforcement resources. (Morales, 5/20)

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