By Halie Kines
Over the past few years, it’s become clear to those in mental health and law enforcement fields that it doesn’t do much good to impose a harsh sentence on a drug addict and have that person sit in jail for a mandatory sentence. While that tough justice approach keeps the addict off the streets, it doesn’t address the core issues that person could be facing or any criminogenic factors. One of those issues often tied to drug and alcohol abuse is mental illness, according to local officials. A large number of people in the jail system struggle with mental health, Potter County commissioner Paul Heimel said. Some addicts or those with mental illnesses have received help, but once they become confined they don’t continue to get the help they need, Heimel said, due to finances, professional availability and jail policies.