NYC Looks to Stop Incarcerating So Many Mentally Ill People

June 2, 2014 | Andy Cush

Today, City Hall will announce the Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System, a new panel that the de Blasio administration hopes will reduce the rate of incarceration among mentally ill people in NYC.

The Times has de Blasio’s statement:

“For far too long, our city’s jails have acted as de facto mental health facilities,” Mr. de Blasio said in a statement, in which he explained that he was directing the task force to develop “innovative strategies to transform, reform and update this city’s criminal justice system” and figure out how “we can provide real, lasting mental health and addiction treatment for those in need.”

The program will look to both ensure that mentally ill prisoners are treated well and reduce the number of people who enter the justice system in the first place. de Blasio’s announcement comes on the heels of the death of Jerome Murdough, a 56-year-old mentally ill homeless ex-Marine who was subjected to temperatures over 100 degrees in his cell in Februrary.