Mental illness and crime: Lawmakers finally focusing on population often served last

BOSTON – Massachusetts legislators involved in serious reforms of the current criminal justice are finally prioritizing those who are often served last: individuals with mental illnesses and disabilities.

Sen. Cindy Friedman, D-Arlington, is also working to boost protections for the mentally ill community. One bill Friedman is presenting would establish a criminal justice and community support trust fund, which would support jail diversion programs for those with mental illnesses or substance use disorders, develop training programs for law enforcement in mental health crisis response and create ongoing community services. Another would encourage courts to direct people battling addiction toward treatment, rather than incarceration.

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