BOSTON, Mass. (WWLP) – The National Alliance on Mental Illness told 22 News that millions of tax dollars are being spent incarcerating the mentally ill when treatment may be the better option.
Advocates made their pitch to state lawmakers to fund mental health training for police officers. The program would teach officers how to identify symptoms of mental illness and how to deescalate potentially dangerous situations.
Supporters of the program believe too many people who suffer from mental illness end up being arrested when treatment services could be more beneficial in the long run. Heather Strange, a member of the National Alliance of Mental Illness, explained that “They don’t belong in jail. I mean, a lot of our individuals belong in hospitalization, services like that, they don’t belong in jail.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness plans to pay for the training program by adding an auto insurance surcharge costing drivers 25 cents each month. The Alliance told 22News placing the mentally ill into treatment instead of arresting them would reduce overcrowding in the state’s jails.