awkwardly

Thursday

Officials hope to change processing of mentally ill

To their credit, these people are trying to reform a disgustingly failed system, but check out the terminology. In Adrian, Mich., they're trying to work together with local governments, police, hospitals, mental health and substance abuse treatment agencies to create a "jail diversion" program. Which is to say they're trying to keep jail from being the main destination for many people with mental illness.

I can't help but wonder if they couldn't look back in public records 10 to 20 years to see how things were handled before Republican Governor John Engler closed the last 9 out of ten remaining mental hospitals in Michigan.

Although the state had been gradually closing its institutions over several years and supposedly shifting emphasis to community mental health systems, they ignored warnings about closing too quickly. Engler's Director of Mental Health James K. Haveman Jr. said, "This is no different than what previous directors have done.... I am not naive enough to think that people won't fall through the cracks. But if you show it to me, I'll take care of it."

Great system of checks and balances there. Maybe all those local governments, police, hospitals, mental health and substance abuse treatment agencies can show their problems to Haveman and he'll "take care of it."

For some more perspective, here's a 20 July 2003 article from the Detroit News:
Critics: Patients moved out too quickly

Just to end on a high note, it's very nice to see a Republican in that first article who sees the status quo as a problem. Lenawee County Commissioner Richard Bailey, R-Adrian: "We're building a nice new jail that has padded cells to put them in. That's not the answer."

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