Collaborative approach keeps people with mental health issues out of jail

DAVENPORT, Iowa — Leaders in behavioral health and the court system have come together to help keep people suffering from mental illness out of prisons. A panel spoke with law enforcement, doctors, students and professors at a St. Ambrose workshop Thursday afternoon Feb. 9.

Organizers say it's a community approach to look deeper into why people with mental health issues often end up in jail, and to look for solutions on how to change that.

"We have to continually educate people about mental illness and substance abuse. I think that if there are things we don't know about, we maybe have the wrong impression of things," said Michelle Rock, conference speaker.

People with mental illness make up 17 percent of the prison population in the U.S.