SHERIFF DART TO TESTIFY IN CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON MENTAL ILLNESS
Tuesday, March 25, 2014 — Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart will testify in an upcoming Congressional hearing on the nation’s broken mental health system, offering his insight on the root of the problem and ideas to provide justice to America’s mentally ill and their families.
The hearing – titled “Where Have All the Patients Gone? Examining the Psychiatric Bed Shortage” – will be held by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, part of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) invited Sheriff Dart to testify as a result of his emergence as a national advocate for the mentally ill and his ongoing campaign to raise awareness of how jails have become the new asylums.
Sheriff Dart has long decried the systematic cuts to mental health services in the State of Illinois as well as the crippling closures of several large state mental health hospitals and half of the mental health clinics within the City of Chicago. The lack of access to care for the seriously mentally ill has yielded what Sheriff Dart believes to be a de facto criminalization of mental illness. The Cook County Jail is now the largest mental health facility in the country, with approximately 30 percent of the inmate population suffering from serious mental illness on any given day.
The hearing will be held Wednesday, March 26, at 9 a.m. CST in the Rayburn House Office Building. The webcast will be available at energycommerce.house.gov.
Among the distinguished guests scheduled to testify alongside Sheriff Dart include:
- Lisa Ashley, Parent of a son with serious mental illness
- Jeffrey L. Geller, M.D., M.P.H., Professor of Psychiatry and Director of Public Sector Psychiatry, University of Massachusetts Medical School
- Jon Mark Hirshon, M.D., M.P.H., Ph.D., FACEP, Task Force Chair, 2014 American College of Emergency Physicians National Report Card on Emergency Care, Associate Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine
- Michael C. Biasotti, Chief of Police and Immediate Past President of New York State Association of Chiefs of Police, Parent of a daughter with serious mental illness
- Steve Leifman, Associate Administrative Judge, Miami-Dade County Court, Eleventh Judicial Circuit of Florida Gunther Stern, Executive Director, Georgetown Ministry Center
- Hakeem Rahim, Ed.M., M.A., Speaker and mental health educator and advocate
- LaMarr D. Edgerson, Psy.D., LMFT, NBCCH, Clinical Mental Health Counselor,
Director at Large, American Mental Health Counselors Association, Family Harmony
- Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., Commissioner, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services and University of Pennsylvania