By: The White House
Every year, more than 11 million people move through America’s 3,100 local jails, many on low-level, non-violent misdemeanors, costing local governments approximately $22 billion a year.In local jails, 64 percent of people suffer from mental illness, 68 percent have a substance abuse disorder, and 44 percent suffer from chronic health problems.Communities across the country have recognized that a relatively small number of these highly-vulnerable people cycle repeatedly not just through local jails, but also hospital emergency rooms, shelters, and other public systems, receiving fragmented and uncoordinated care at great cost to American taxpayers, with poor outcomes.
For example, Miami-Dade, Florida found that 97 people with serious mental illness accounted for $13.7 million in services over 4 years, spending more than 39,000 days in either jail, emergency rooms, state hospitals, or psychiatric facilities in their county.In response, the county provided key mental health de-escalation training to their police officers and 911 dispatchers. Over the past 5 years, Miami-Dade police have responded to nearly 50,000 calls for service for people in mental-health crises, but have made only 109 arrests, diverting more than 10,000 people to services or safely stabilizing situations without arrest.The jail population fell from over 7,000 to just over 4,700, and the county was able to close an entire jail facility, saving nearly $12 million a year.
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