Dauphin County, PA, Rolls out Plan to Reform Criminal Justice System for Mentally Ill

ABC27 News

By Sarah Gisriel

Closures of state hospitals and limited funding for treatment services has put stress on jail systems across the country, and Dauphin County is no exception.

In 2016, 44 percent of the county’s mentally ill inmates returned to prison within a year of their initial booking.

Officials say now, it’s time to make a change.

“Dauphin County is actually at the forefront of this. We found that many counties around the country struggled to just identify how many people with mental illnesses are in their system, and they’re trying to get this data to develop a systematic plan,” said Will Engelhardt, project manager, Council of State Government Justice Center

That plan involves eight recommendations designed to keep low-level, mentally ill offenders out of incarceration and into treatment.

“With this information, knowing that people with mental illnesses are staying too long in their jail┬átake some course of action against pretrial responses and such, knowing that too many people are being arrested, you can think about how law enforcement is responding to people with mental illnesses,” Engelhardt said.

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