Officials in Phoenix’ Maricopa County say their jails house more seriously mentally ill people than any other facility in the state, the Arizona Republic reports. Members of a new countywide task force plan to meet next week to evaluate the system, streamline procedures within the county, and hash out possible solutions.
The stakes are high for the county, taxpayers, and mental patients. The patients, many accused of minor crimes, often don’t get the care they need. They’re in overcrowded jails where they can fall prey to other inmates. Many are taken off their treatment plans, and most end up right back in jail once released. Correctional Health Services, the county department that provides medical treatment in jails, has come under fire and undergone major leadership changes during the past few years. Inmates often complain about poor care. Some can go without their medications for several days, depending on when they’re booked and what drugs they’re taking.