In a sign of evolving attitudes about the criminal justice system, the city’s Health Commission unanimously declared that “incarceration is a public health issue.”
The designation, voted on Tuesday, commits the Department of Public Health to develop a plan to prevent incarceration. Essentially, the move signals a growing interest in policies that encourage rehabilitation rather than detention in a cell.
“Incarceration is an incredible public health problem, especially for people who are mentally ill,” Michael Romano, director and founder of the Three Strikes and Justice Advocacy Projects at Stanford Law School, told KCBS Radio.
The U.S. Department of Justice says the majority of people in jail around the country suffer from severe mental illness, Romano said
“Jail only exacerbates that problem,” Romano said. “If we want to address problems of crime and homelessness, we really need to integrate our criminal justice and healthcare systems, and I think this commission report goes a long way towards that.”Read More