The Broward County Sheriff has issued an urgent appeal after claiming that it is costing taxpayers millions of dollars and that too many mentally ill people are being held in jail rather than obtaining the necessary care.
Gregory Tony, the county’s sheriff, estimated that housing and caring for those with mental illnesses costs around $117 million annually.
However, the problem goes beyond the monetary expenses.
“We will need to address these socioeconomic and social problems in this county. We can’t just say, “We’ll arrest them and put them out of our minds,” “Tony said.
Tony has been particularly concerned about the situation. After researching it, he wrote a letter on Thursday advocating reform to the chief judge, the public defender’s office, and even the state attorney.
He is hopeful that they may all cooperate in an effort to discover a more effective method of treating those with mental illnesses. He claimed that imprisoning individuals doesn’t work.
While we do not advocate for the release of everyone, Tony said that not everyone belonged in the jail getting medical and mental health care.
With a roughly 70% rise in the number of persons obtaining mental health care over the previous ten or more years, according to Tony, the issue has gotten worse recently. This is true even if the overall prison population has decreased.
For a county of 2 million people, Tony stated, “If we don’t do something now, we are going to continue, meaning the Sheriff’s Office will be the de facto mental health institute.”
The convicts who are now locked up would be better served at a separate treatment center, not a jail, according to the sheriff, who said that the money utilized for mentally ill inmates might be used elsewhere.