Mental Health - Smart Justice
Our mentally ill do not have access to affordable treatment and there is no system in place to monitor and follow the mentally ill. As a result, many of them end up in our criminal justice system as continued repeat offenders costing Cochise County tax payers a lot of money. While Cochise County has implemented a Care Court designed to help the mentally ill, which is a step in the right direction, there is still much need for improvement.
Unlike Veterans who have access to quality free care through the VA, citizens without these benefits often do not have access to affordable mental health treatment, especially since most are unemployed as a result of their mental illness. Many of the participants of Care Court do great while they are receiving services in connection with Care Court. However, as soon as their case is resolved, many just fall back into their old patterns of not getting treatment due to a lack of affordable treatment services and end up right back in the criminal justice system and costing tax payers. We must stop this vicious cycle. We need smarter justice.
I will work with court administrators and local and state officials to improve the resources available in Cochise County for the mentally ill. I will also work to change attitudes away from criminalizing the mentally ill and toward a community based approach to helping the mentally ill. With the community's support, we can help the mentally ill become contributing members of society, or at least not be a burden on the criminal justice system.
I won’t ask Cochise County to provide any funds to pay for Mental Health Services. I will seek grant funding and community partners to fund the program, bringing additional money into Cochise County to better our community.
Smart Justice policies like this will have a real impact on Cochise County and its citizens, reducing repeat offenders, redirecting defendants to productive activities before they commit a more serious crime, and making our community a safer place to live.