Mental illness overwhelms prisons, police: ‘We have an urgent problem’

Global News

Abbotsford Police routinely spend the night dealing with people who aren’t criminals.

They’ll spend hours, Chief Constable Bob Richtold a parliamentary committee, in emergency rooms waiting for individuals they’ve apprehended to see a doctor.

Mental illness is costing police forces more than ever, says a Commons committee report on policing economics, released Tuesday.

And when they are convicted of crimes – often non-violent ones, at least the first time – people with mental illness are overwhelming Canada’s prison system. They serve their sentences without adequate treatment, spend time in segregation that’s proven to make their condition worse and often leave prison more dangerous than when they entered.

Specialized psychiatric prisons were supposed to address that. But as a Global News investigation revealed, inmates at those institutions are far more likely to die and be assaulted than anywhere else.

The federal government said earlier this month it’ll conduct a…

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