LANSING — Sen. Curtis Hertel, Jr. (D–East Lansing) and Ingham County Sheriff Scott Wriggelsworth are working together to address Michigan’s ongoing need for increased mental health resources.
Wriggelsworth testified before the Senate Appropriations Community Health/Human Services Subcommittee 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.”
One of the main issues counties are facing is long wait times for treatment and the cost to house inmates awaiting care. In Ingham County, the average wait time for forensic center treatment for an inmate who is found incompetent to stand trial is 10 months. It costs the county $85/day to house an inmate.
“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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