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New law will help create jail diversion programs for people suffering mental health crisis

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Michigan Mental Health advocates are praising a new law that creates jail diversion programs.

Those programs connect people with mental illness or developmental delays to treatment instead of jail for certain charges.

Summer Berman is the director of the Fresh Start Clubhouse in Ann Arbor. She says these programs will help people suffering from a mental health crisis to avoid unnecessary interactions with police.

“Law enforcement is...for when laws are being broken,” says Berman, “Having a mental health crisis is not a criminal activity.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer recently signed the legislation that would distribute grants to communities to create the programs. The new law is based on recommendations from the governor's jail diversion task force.

The state corrections department estimates that nearly a quarter of Michigan state prison inmates have some form of mental illness.

Steve Carmody has been a reporter for Michigan Public since 2005. Steve previously worked at public radio and television stations in Florida, Oklahoma and Kentucky, and also has extensive experience in commercial broadcasting.
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