Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bill Would Move Mentally Ill from Jail to Centers

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Bill Would Move Mentally Ill from Jail to Centers

Article excerpt

Moving the mentally ill out of jails and into treatment centers is the goal of a bill approved by a state House committee.

"The jails and prisons are becoming our biggest mental health clinics," Rep. Wallace Collins, D-Norman, told the House Mental Health Committee.

"They need some help. They need some medication. They're not going to get it in the jails and prisons," Collins said.

Collins said law enforcement officers are sometimes not trained to distinguish between people who act irrationally due to drug or alcohol abuse from the mentally ill. His bill encourages police to "try to evaluate the mentally ill very early," he said.

House Bill 2400, which Collins authored, sets up a voluntary program in which counties, cities and towns can divert the mentally ill from incarceration when they come into contact with law enforcement officials.

The bill allows local governments to create emergency service patrols that would have trained officers who could evaluate people with possible mental health problems. …

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