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  • Keeping the Mentally Ill Out of Jail: Sheriffs as Litigants

    In March 2014, Congress convened a hearing titled “Where Have All the Patients Gone? Examining the Psychiatric Bed Shortage.” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart testified “[s]ince becoming Sheriff in 2006, I have seen an explosion in the percentage of seriously mentally ill individuals housed in the jail.” “I usually have about 3,500 mentally ill in my jail in a day.” In 2011, Sheriff Dart had announced that he had considered filing a lawsuit against the state for failing to provide services to prevent people with serious mental health problems from ending up in his jail. The purpose of this paper is to develop a litigation strategy that will help Sheriffs accomplish that goal.

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