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Letter: An issue of humanity

I read with great interest the article “State hospital adds beds, crisis unit” (Sunday Monitor, Aug. 24).

I applaud the efforts by the state hospital. Most of us know all too well the burden of those who have faced mental challenges since the state decided to make cuts to mental health care.

What is a clear and, frankly, ignorant omission from this article is how it has affected our local jails and prisons.

For years, these individuals in crisis have been dumped in our jails because there is nowhere else to put them. Facilities, shelters, food banks, counseling, etc., have closed.

The fact is that a majority of these individuals land in jail because society wants to push them away and look the other way. When people are in crisis, they don’t act as they normally would. Emotion takes over. The feeling of being trapped is evident. We have all felt that at one time or another.

Is the behavior excusable? No. But we need to look at the circumstance and help, not push them away, not lock them up.

If you, a member of your family or a friend was in conflict, would you want them to go to jail or get help? Jail is not the answer.

Ten beds, at a cost of $2.15 million?

That’s ridiculous, though I am relatively certain that the cost of housing in a jail is way more. This issue is not about money; it’s about humanity.



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