New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Monday a plan to overhaul how the city’s criminal justice system handles the mentally ill, more than 5,000 of whom are currently housed in city jails. The plan would create two “drop-off centers” where police would drop off mentally ill suspects as an alternative to jails or hospital emergency rooms. The plan also would provide better therapeutic care within jails and for prisoners re-entering society.
Under de Blasio’s predecessor, Michael Bloomberg, the New York Police Department resisted calls for more comprehensive training on how to work with the mentally ill, saying that occasional workshops taught by psychiatric experts were sufficient. But de Blasio’s plan, created in partnership with Police Chief William Bratton, calls for an initial group of 5,500 officers — approximately 15 percent of the force — to participate in an in-depth 36-hour mental illness crisis training program.
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