The New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced today that he wants to spend $130 million over four years to overhaul how the city deals with mentally ill and drug-addicted suspects, diverting many to treatment instead of the troubled Rikers Island jail.
The announcement comes after two recent deaths of mentally ill inmates.
The reforms are aimed largely at inmates with mental-health or substance-abuse problems who repeatedly end up in jail on minor offenses because there is nowhere else for them to go.
The changes, which do not require city council approval, include offering stepped-up training for police to identify such suspects, using drop-off treatment centers for low-level offenders and allowing more leeway for judges to order supervised release and treatment instead of jail. They draw on reforms already tried in Seattle, Washington D.C., and Louisville, Kentucky.