Governor Tom Wolf’s (D) office, criminal justice officials, and lawmakers will be taking a look at a Comprehensive Behavioral Health Task Force report that they received this week.
The initiatives included in the 180 page report, which are also known as “Smart Justice” initiatives, are geared toward enhancing drug and alcohol services, mental health services, and re-entry programs for prisoners. Another focus of the initiatives is the creation of pre-trial diversion programs.
Potter County is already a part of a state partnership to create a pre-trial diversion pilot program. The program looks at people to see if they can stay in the community instead of being incarcerated. Those individuals who are not incarcerated can keep working and receive mental health treatment and medical treatment as needed. Counties would benefit as they would not be paying incarceration costs and public defender fees.
Potter County Commissioner Paul Heimel is a member of the Comprehensive Behavioral Health Task Force along with commissioners from 11 other counties including Bradford, Berks, Dauphin, Montgomery, York, Chester, Armstrong, Warren, Dauphin, Westmoreland, and Franklin counties.