Livers: Lafayette leading the state in eyeing solutions to diverting the mentally ill from jails _lowres

Advocate staff photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK -- Tayler Richard, a graduate student in psychology at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, writes down discussion topics while working with a small group during the Mental Health--Criminal Justice Collaborative meeting Wednesday, December 9, 2015, at the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Department Public Safety Complex in Lafayette, La. Participants included judicial and law enforcement personnel and state and local health representatives.

Thank you for exposing so many things that are wrong with our criminal justice and jailing system. I also agree that jails should not be substitutes for mental health hospitals. In a mental health crisis, people are more likely to encounter police than get medical help, and that is a serious problem that needs to be looked at. The vast majority of individuals are not violent criminals. Most people in jails are have not yet gone to trial, so they are not yet convicted of a crime. The rest are serving short sentences for minor crimes.

The media should be covering issues like these more often, and we need more candidates running for office willing to tackle them head-on. It is appalling that people are constantly denied their rights to seek help. I plan on raising this issue with my local officials, and I hope that this article will do the same.

Guest column: Invest for jobs wisely

Quan Washington

high school student

New Orleans