Pubdate: Sun, 29 Dec 2002
Source: Daily Gazette (NY)
Copyright: 2002 The Gazette Newspapers
Author: Joseph A. Glazer
Note: The writer is president/CEO of Mental Health Association in New York
State Inc.


I read with great interest your Dec. 10 editorial, "Drug courts
encouraging," and applaud Schenectady County's efforts in successfully
establishing a drug court.

Such alternatives to incarceration illustrate the need for appropriate
treatment of nonviolent offenders with disorders.

Albany County has been active in developing a jail diversion pilot
project, similar in purpose to Schenectady County's drug court model,
to improve the treatment of nonviolent offenders living with mental
illnesses or co-occurring mental illnesses and substance abuse
disorders. The Albany County Department of Mental Health, The Homeless
and Travelers Aid Society, The Mental Health Association of the
Capital Region, The Mental Health Association in New York state and
other key community stakeholders have collaborated on this effort to
ensure that this population is served in appropriate community-based
services, rather than in a correctional setting, where staff are not
equipped to deal with mental illness.

The Mental Health Jail Diversion Project of Albany County has created
an alternative to incarceration that provides individuals with mental
illnesses and/or substance abuse disorders with more appropriate
treatment options and much greater chance of achieving recovery. This
alternative will reduce recidivism rates, the incidence and length of
incarceration time, enhance community safety and provide judges with
alternative sentencing options. All of these benefits can be realized,
while at the same time reducing the overall costs paid for services to
individuals with mental illnesses and/or substance abuse disorders
through public dollars.

Through increased recognition of jail diversion and other projects of
its kind as an effective alternative to incarceration, the Capital
Region continues to move toward the provision of appropriate treatment
of individuals with mental illnesses and substance-related disorders.

Joseph A. Glazer, Albany
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake