New York City Mayor to Spend $130 Million on Treatment for Addicted Inmates
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New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to spend $130 million on revamping the city’s jails in an effort to treat drug-addicted and mentally ill inmates.
De Blasio’s goal is to provide treatment for those inmates suffering from mental illness and drug addictions. The proposed reform includes providing law enforcement officers with a 36-hour training course on how to identify those with behavioral health issues and the construction of two drop-off treatment centers for low-level offenders.
Nearly 85% of all NYC inmates have a substance abuse disorder and approximately 33% suffer from some form of mental illness. De Blasio’s plan can potentially help many of these inmates, but some, like Michael Thompson, director of the Council of State Governments Justice Center, fear the initiative will be met with great difficulty.
“There’s a lot of moving parts there,” said Thompson. “There’s a reason why this is difficult: you’re trying to do things at multiple points and you’re talking about a huge volume of people.”
Others, like Patrick Markee, director of advocacy at Coalition for the Homeless, have expressed concerns over how well these new programs will perform once they have been implemented.
“It’s definitely a positive step forward,” said Markee. “But the most important issue remains permanent affordable housing with support services and the real problem is we have a huge shortage of that kind of housing.”
De Blasio has admitted the city’s jails are practically “de facto mental health facilities,” but believes his plan can fix the broken correction system.
“This is going to be a long process by definition, because it was not years, it was decades in the making, that’s how broken our correction system was,” said de Blasio.