Senator partners with sheriff to increase mental health resources for inmates

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Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. and Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth are working together to address mental health resource needs in Michigan.

Wriggelsworth testified before a senate subcommittee on Thursday to highlight the impact the lack of resources has had on the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office.

“This is a major community health and safety issue we’re experiencing not only here in Ingham County, but in all 83 counties in Michigan,” said Wriggelsworth.

Hertel, who serves as Minority Vice Chair of the subcommittee and Senate Appropriations committee, says increasing funding for mental health treatment and forensic center beds is one of his top budget priorities for the state.

“This is a pervasive issue across the nation and Michigan is no exception,” said Hertel. “Without adequate funding for mental health facilities, jails have become some of the country’s largest treatment centers, but they’re not equipped to provide proper care.”

It costs the county $85 a day to house an inmate. In Ingham County, the average wait time for forensic center treatment for an inmate who is found incompetent to stand trial is 10 months.

“With limited access to treatment facilities, inmates incompetent to stand trial wait months on end in jail while their cases stall and go nowhere,” said Wriggelsworth. “The current process is unfair to the victims in these cases as well as the inmates themselves, not to mention county Sheriffs footing the bill waiting for a bed.”

Hertel said the crisis is a direct result of how Michigan has prioritized mental health in previous budgets.

“This issue will only continue to grow until we invest in its solution,” said Hertel. “We need to better prioritize the health of some of our most vulnerable residents, as well as the safety of our communities and law enforcement.”

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