Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart has criticized Gov. Bruce Rauner’s budget cuts, saying the governor’s fiscal plan will end up costing the state a lot more money in the long run, and needlessly send more people to jail.
Dart, a former state lawmaker, said Cook County Jail already is the nation’s largest mental health facility, and if Rauner’s proposed cuts to mental health treatment programs are carried out, it will mean more mentally ill people on the streets, and possibly arrested for minor crimes.
“We’re already one of the worst. If we go further with that, we will be able to look around and tell everyone that we’re number one in the country for turning our back on people with mental illness, and we’re doing it at an outrageous cost to all the taxpayers, too,” Dart said.
The sheriff said he’s written a letter to Rauner, telling him the proposed budget cuts are pennywise and pound foolish.
“It’s not thoughtful to lock up mentally ill people for a disease, not because they’re criminals, and it’s not smart to take money and throw it down the sewer,” Dart said. “If you cut off services in the street, I can absolutely categorically guarantee that my jail population will increase. The prison population will increase as well.”
Dart is the guest on this weekend’s edition of At Issue, airing Sunday at 9:30 a.m. and 9:30 p.m. on WBBM Newsradio 780 & 105.9FM.