Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

DeWine wants working group on issues for mentally ill Ohioans accused of crimes

Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare on Columbus' west side, one of the state's six psychiatric hospitals
Karen Kasler
Statehouse News Bureau
Twin Valley Behavioral Healthcare on Columbus' west side, one of the state's six psychiatric hospitals

93% of people in Ohio’s six state psychiatric hospitals are there because they committed crimes, and need to be restored to mental competency so they can stand trial. Gov. Mike DeWine said he wants to look at this problem, which he notes is not new, and will take a lot of effort to solve.

DeWine said the working group he'll create will include judges, mental health experts and law enforcement, all looking at how to help people who end up in jails with severe mental health issues – and to keep state psychiatric facilities available for people who need them but haven’t committed crimes.

"What the experts tell me is that someone who has a serious mental health problem, if they can get treatment early—by early means within the maybe the first six months, the first year—the chance of them being able to live a better life goes up dramatically," DeWine said. "And there are people, undoubtedly, who need to be in our state system now in one of our state hospitals who simply cannot get in because it's almost totally occupied by people in the criminal justice system."

“We have to look at our system and say, what's wrong with the way this system worked?" DeWine said. "We need state psychiatric hospitals. But my guess is this working group will come back and say that's not the most appropriate place for these individuals.”

The state spends nearly $42 million on care for the nearly one-third of inmates with mental illness in Ohio, and it’s a big strain on counties.

DeWine unveiled the working group idea to a meeting of the Ohio members of the Stepping Up Initiative, a national effort to reduce the number of mentally ill people in jails. The working group will be officially announced in the next few weeks. DeWine said he hopes it will make recommendations that can be considered by the legislature.

Contact Karen at 614-578-6375 or at
Related Content