A new study offers a solution to the problems of jail overcrowding and recidivism in Michigan: Invest more in mental health and drug treatment.
Wayne State University’s Center for Behavioral Health and Justice spent five years reviewing treatment and jail-diversion programs in 10 counties. Researchers found that people who got treatment for mental health disorders were less likely to return to jail.
“Training law enforcement to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness is really important,” says Sheryl Kubiak, dean of WSU’s School of Social Work who led the study. “When we did pre- and post-interviews, officers would tell us things like they didn’t believe in mental illness, they just thought it was bad behavior.”