Loyola University Chicago

Beazley Institute for Health Law and Policy

School of Law

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Sheriff Dart and Warden Jones Tapia Discuss Mental Health Care Efforts at the Cook County Jail

Sheriff Dart and Warden Jones Tapia Discuss Mental Health Care Efforts at the Cook County Jail

The Beazley Institute was honored to host Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Dr. Nneka Jones Tapia, Warden of Cook County Jail. Both spoke to Loyola’s Access to Health Care students on the legal and policy issues surrounding mental health care in Cook County’s criminal justice system. They addressed the history of deinstitutionalization in America, how it contributed to the mass criminalization of mental illness and what Cook County is doing to provide humane care to the mentally ill today.

The Access to Health Care course is currently examining access to mental health in America’s criminal justice system and the interplay between criminal behavior and mental illness. Having Sheriff Dart and Dr. Jones Tapia speak afforded students a look inside the largest single-site jail in the United States. It is estimated that about one in three inmates at Cook County Jail have some form of mental illness. Students were able to hear about Sheriff Dart and Dr. Jones Tapia’s innovative efforts to provide quality mental health care to those that are mired in the criminal justice system.

The class will be in Los Angeles, California over spring break to examine access to mental health issues specific to LA County and its Twin Towers Correctional Facility, which houses over four thousand inmates (20% of whom suffer from mental illness).