By the AJC Editorial Board
Jails do a much better job of housing the criminal element than they can ever be expected to do in treating the mentally ill, who are routinely marched into cellblocks in the Atlanta region and across the state.
Sweeping mentally challenged people off our streets and into jails, often for minor nuisance offenses, does little more than conceal what remains a serious problem in Georgia, even as the state works to improve care. We’re not alone; other states are struggling with the same issue. We must fix it.
Frequent incarceration of the mentally ill conveniently removes them from public view. What it does not do — despite good intentions by jailers — is effectively address the illnesses that drew law enforcement attention in the first place. That’s a tragedy for the mentally fragile among us and also for the taxpayers whose dollars would be more effectively spent on community-based treatment, not haphazard detention.
Read what The AJC Editorial Board, along with the director of public policy and advocacy for Mental Health America of Georgia, and the commissioner of the Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities have to say. Then comment below.