The Helmsely Charitable Trust is giving the State Department of Health a $302,500 grant to fund a community justice and mental health early intervention taskforce. The project intends to evaluate how to better help people with mental health issues that end up in the criminal justice system.
South Dakota Chef Supreme Court Justice David Gilbertson is leading the taskforce. He says a study conducted last year found that South Dakota faces challenges in providing access to mental health care.
“Nationwide states are seeing a significant increase in the number of people with mental illness coming into contact with our criminal justice system and I think it’s clear South Dakota is no exception to that. Law enforcement, our courts, and jails are faced with the challenge of responding to the needs of individuals with mental illness, but the criminal justice system is often not the most appropriate and most cost effective response,” says Gilbertson
The taskforce hopes to identify how people with mental illness come into contact with law enforcement and to better align state resources to improve early intervention programs.
Members of the taskforce include all three branches of state government. They hold their first meeting Wednesday in Pierre.