Community Conversations: Decriminalizing Health Crises – Mental Health & Substance Abuse in Oklahoma
For years Oklahoma has been warehousing the mentally ill in its jails and prisons due to misguided drug policies and inadequate systems to properly and humanely respond to a public health crisis. And yet despite voter-approved measures to address such issues at the county level, Oklahoma persists to– its detriment–in using its jails as pseudo mental health and drug treatment facilities. Those with mental health issues continue to be largely overrepresented in our jail population and they are not getting any better.
True treatment is needed, not punishment. We cannot continue to criminalize health issues. Doing so is to further impair the wellbeing of our citizens, our community, as well as our economy. So what is Oklahoma doing to rectify this wrong?