Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart, appearing on CBS’ “60 minutes” on Sunday, spoke on the dangers of sending mentally ill people to jail.
Dart said Cook County jail housed at least 2,500 inmates with mental illnesses and called jails and prisons “the new insane asylums.”
“This is a population that people don’t care about and so as a result of that there are not the resources out there to care for them,” Dart told CBS correspondent Steve Kroft. “The irony is so deep that you have a society that finds it wrong to have people warehoused in state mental institutions but those very same people were OK if we warehouse them in a jail. You’ve got to be kidding me.”
The interview came in the wake of several mass shootings that have been carried out by people with mental illness.
Dart noted the criminal justice system is not equipped to handle inmates of mental illness.
“Some are getting treated, some are not getting treated. People are falling through the cracks all the time,” he said in the interview. “To think that won’t then boil up at some point and end up in a tragedy, that’s just naive.”