As a prosecuting attorney, I learned early in my career that people facing mental health problems were cycling through our criminal justice system time and again, receiving jail or prison time rather than the treatment they needed. My colleague Ohio Supreme Court Justice Evelyn Lundberg Stratton saw the same thing years ago as a trial judge.
Our shared interest in the problem, which we have worked on together in the past, has prompted a new partnership that I believe holds much promise. It’s called the Attorney General’s Task Force on Criminal Justice and Mental Illness, a new group that is building on the work of a committee Justice Stratton formed more than a decade ago. (See related story, “Panel addresses mental health, criminal justice issues.”)
A couple things are especially exciting about this effort.
First, it involves some of the best minds across Ohio who are in a position to help address this vexing problem. Not only do these individuals — representing law enforcement, the judicial system, the mental health field, housing groups, veterans’ advocates, education, and more — have the know-how to make a difference, they share a very real desire to do so.
This is an action-oriented group. Just as Justice Stratton and I are co-chairing the task force, pairs of experts are leading its 10 subcommittees. They have identified problems, and they are working with their colleagues on and outside the task force to find solutions.
The number of people with mental illness in jails and prisons has grown in recent decades as state treatment facilities closed and community-based programs lacked the resources to fill the void.
We won’t solve the many issues involved overnight, but we can effect real change. And that will create a better environment for Ohio families, individuals with mental illness and their loved ones, and peace officers across the state.
Help for consumers
I am very pleased with the progress of our Consumer Protection Section’s new Economic Crimes Division. The unit’s work has led to felony charges against 14 scam artists, and additional investigations hold promise.
With your help, we can crack down on crimes against consumers that proliferate during hard economic times such as these.
I urge law enforcement and prosecutors to turn to our staff for help in identifying, investigating, and prosecuting crimes against consumers. Authorities wishing assistance can visit www.OHLEG.org
and click on “Economic Crimes — Assistance to Law Enforcement” or send an e-mail to EconomicCrimes@OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov
Very respectfully yours,
Ohio Attorney General