On any given day, the L.A. County Jail, Cook County Jail in Chicago, and Riker’s Island in N.Y. hold more people with mental illness than any actual mental health institution in
the U.S. The Minnesota Sheriff’s Association reports that as high as 50% of prisoners in Minnesota jails are mentally ill. The truth is: our criminal justice system is overrun with mentally ill people whose “offenses” could be more appropriately dealt with as symptoms of brain disorders.
It’s also true, unfortunately, that law enforcement officers have become the front line in our mental health system – often with great stress and potential danger to themselves, or to the person in mental health crisis.