President Trump attended the event.
Washington, DC – District Attorney Charlie Smith represented the National District Attorney’s Association on Thursday at the “White House Summit on Transforming Mental Health Treatment to Combat Homelessness, Violence, and Substance Abuse”.
Smith said the summit’s goal was to address the untreated mental illness epidemic that is putting a strain on law enforcement and jails.
“The administration cited that basically 1/5 of law enforcement resources is spent on dealing with mental illnesses,” Smith said. “… It costs the nation over a billion dollars each year.”
Smith said the presentation explained between 60% and 85% of those facing severe mental health issues are resistant to treatment, indicating that housing and benefits aren’t the answer.
President Donald Trump made a surprise visit to the summit, highlighting his administration’s commitment to the epidemic, noting the White House’s success in Veteran treatment, reducing veteran homelessness by 75%.
Smith said he is looking to address the mental health issues that occur in Frederick County.
Many local misdemeanor offenders would be better served by treatment over incarceration. This will help rehabilitate the offender, save the taxpayers money, and focus correctional resources where they belong.
“We’re going to launch a mental health court right here in Frederick County,” Smith said. “We’re hiring for that right now and we hope to have it rolled out by the beginning of next year.”
Smith said the mental health court would function similarly to the already established drug court, providing long-term community-based treatment instead of jail time to misdemeanor offenders with an ongoing mental health issue.
By Timothy Young