According to a recent New York Times article, New York City officials have just allocated $130 million over four years to expand public health services at almost every step of the criminal justice process. This is an important part of the state’s effort to reduce the growing number of incarcerated people with mental health and substance abuse problems in New York City’s jails. The new plan will shift emphasis from punishment for minor crimes to treatment and the changes include tripling the size of both pretrial diversion programs and the amount of resources devoted to easing the transition from jail back into society.
A task force of city officials and community leaders released a report on Monday detailing changes aimed at keeping people with mental illness and substance abuse problems out of jail if they have not committed a major crime.
Among the many innovations suggested by the task force is the development of community based drop-off centers, where police officers with specialized training could bring people they have taken into custody for minor crimes. According to the report, Each center would have detox services, beds for short-term stays, and case managers who could make referrals to existing programs in the community. The first such center would be opened in fall 2015 in Manhattan and the second in an unspecified borough in early 2016.
“It’s a comprehensive plan that, if implemented, could have a significant impact,” said Jennifer J. Parish, director of criminal justice advocacy at the Urban Justice Center.
Read more about the plan in the New York Times article.
Read the full report by the New York task force here.