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Grassroots group applauds grants that address the intersection of mental illness and justice
LANSING, MI – Today, a single line item in the state budget got big applause from the Michigan chapter of the grassroots group Americans for Prosperity (AFP-MI). The appropriation makes up a small part of a mammoth budget but has the potential for enormous impact.
The Jail Diversion Fund will make grants available to local municipalities interested in implementing co-response and other diversion programs for people experiencing a mental health crisis at the time of their contact with law enforcement or the courts.
AFP-MI formed the coalition around the idea and worked closely with State Senator Rick Outman (R-Six Lakes) and stakeholders throughout mental health and law enforcement to bring the idea to completion. The group drew inspiration from similar efforts both within Michigan and around the country in order to develop a robust state-level pilot that will combine best practices and thoroughly evaluate how different components of co-response contribute to a program’s success.
“This small line-item in the state budget could make a big difference by spurring innovative approaches to safer and healthier communities, especially when it comes to major challenges around addiction and other mental health issues,” said Annie Patnaude, state director for Americans for Prosperity-Michigan. “We are encouraged by this opportunity for innovators within law enforcement and mental health to help us rethink what it means to deliver value for taxpayers and communities.”
The $5 million one-time appropriation will power a pilot program to assess the efficacy and efficiency of diversion efforts around the state. Half of the fund will be dedicated to co-response, a model that allows law enforcement and mental health professionals to team up in the field. The other half will be distributed for other types of diversion programs with priority given to rural areas.
“The Jail Diversion Fund will begin to fill a critical need in our state,” said Diana Prichard, community engagement director for Americans for Prosperity-Michigan, who organized the coalition around the idea. “Local co-response models around the country have shown success in so many ways. Having access to a mental health professional in the field can make police-community interactions safer for everyone involved, prevent people from getting caught in an endless cycle with the justice system, and save the state money in the long run.”
Outman was a tireless partner, bringing to bear his policymaking experience as well as his commitment to mental health. He and his colleague State Senator Stephanie Chang (D-Detroit) are now partnering to ensure the state can build on the pilot’s success for years to come.
“We are so appreciative of all the stakeholders involved, as well as the tireless work of Senators Outman and Chang. We look forward to developing a full understanding of the value this innovative approach can bring to community health and safety right here in Michigan,” Prichard concluded. “This grant program is yet another opportunity for us to engage in the broader conversation about community safety and mental health.”