New York City’s correctional facilities are becoming overwhelmed with mentally ill inmates, so Mayor Bill de Blasio has formed a new task force to address the problem, the Times writes.
“For far too long, our city’s jails have acted as de facto mental health facilities,” said de Blasio in a statement.
The Task Force on Behavioral Health and the Criminal Justice System has until September to come up with a plan of “innovative strategies to transform, reform and update this city’s criminal justice system,” said de Blasio.
The plan will include recommendations from the police and correction commissioners, the Manhattan district attorney, hospital administrators and judges.
Elizabeth Glazer, the mayor’s criminal justice coordinator, said part of the goal would be to provide police officers with more options when they respond to the 100,000 calls received each year regarding “emotionally disturbed persons.”
“If someone picks up the phone and calls 911 because they see someone acting out on the street, then what does the police officer do?” Glazer said. “Is this criminal behavior? And a lot of things can be described as criminal behavior, but the best intervention is not necessarily an arrest.”
Elizabeth Glazer, who is also one of the task force leaders, said that the group would seek ways to encourage alternatives to arrest and prosecution.