State Seeking Preventative Measures To Address Mental Health, Substance Abuse

December 10, 2016
Literature at Friday's conference, held at Urbana's Carle Foundation Hospital.

Literature at Friday's conference, held at Urbana's Carle Foundation Hospital.

(Jeff Bossert/Illinois Public Media)

Four Illinois counties, including Champaign, are leading the effort to better understand those who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse disorders. They’re using cross-system data to focus on ‘superutilizers’, or those who often end up in local jails and hospital emergency rooms, at considerable cost. 

The Illinois Criminal Justice Authority wants to help other parts of the state find preventative measures. That was the subject of a conference today in Urbana.

The justice authority’s Executive Director, John Maki, says historically, communities know who winds up in their jails, but don’t quite know how they got there.

“And they don’t really know what to do for them. But when you put other systems together – from health systems – victim’s service systems -  jail systems, etc," he said. "We can begin to create a comprehensive view of what this person looks like, where does he or she comes from? What can we do to prevent them from going into jails and hospitals?”

McLean, Lake, Cook and Champaign Counties are part a nationwide effort to reduce the costs associated with locking up people with complex needs, but don’t pose a risk to public safety.

Champaign County Sheriff's Department Chief Deputy Allen Jones says it’s important to realize that law enforcement and hospital personnel are working with many of the same repeat offenders.

Story source: WILL