Newstalk KBKW

Housing Washington’s Mentally Ill in Washington’s Prison System?

ABERDEEN, Wash. – Continued budget cuts and spending restrictions from the state are pinching law enforcement into diagnosing and housing Grays Harbor’s mentally ill. County Sheriff Mike Whelan tells us, that’s where we start to pick up the bill “100% of the cost of incarceration, medication, and medical care falls upon local taxpayers.”
Director of the Grays Harbor Public Health Department, Joan Brewster said it’s not helping the mentally ill either “When you take somebody who already can’t make sense of the world around them, put them in a cage – and they don’t understand what’s going on, they’re going to get worse.”
The paradigm shift appears to be into reverse, Hoquiam Police Chief Jeff Myers tells us “10 [to] 15 years ago, people we’re dealing with today on the street would have been [sent] off to Western State Mental Hospital. They would have been treated and stabilized and there would have been some long term care.”
Myers, Brewster, and Wheelan joined Aberdeen Police Chief Bob Torgerson to get one concerted message out to the public “I think it’s very important that we contact our legislators and let them know how we feel about it.”

To hear the entire interview, check out KBKW’s On Demand Section under Coffee Talk Interviews

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