Mental Health

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Jails across Virginia are becoming de facto mental institutions as more and more inmates arrive every day with serious mental illness. And, lawmakers are hoping better treatment in jail might free up psychiatric beds for those not caught up in the criminal justice system.

MBandman / Creative Commons

For years, lawmakers in Virginia have struggled to find ways to expand mental health care — with mixed results. A new report from the Commonwealth Institute finds a racial divide in terms of who gets help. 

Prison or Mental Health Facility?

Jun 6, 2017
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The death of an inmate who suffered from mental illness at the Hampton Roads jail has prompted a series of changes in Virginia, but sheriffs remain concerned that jails have become de facto mental institutions.

Steve Helber / AP

 

Lawmakers started the session with a resolve to do something about the problem of mental illness in Virginia jails, an effort that has urgency this year because of a tragic death that happened last year. But as Michael Pope reports, now lawmakers are saying they can’t find the money to change the system.

 

The state has awarded $3.5 million in grants to six regional jails to provide mental health services.  Officials hope to address the underlying cause of crimes -- to keep inmates from coming back after they’re released. 

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