Letter to the editor: The true cost

To the editor:

Lawrence and Douglas County have a long history of supporting mental health services. That’s why the Bert Nash Center was started almost 68 years ago, because community leaders wanted to continue the work Dr. Bert Nash started.

In that same spirit, community leaders and local nonprofits, including Bert Nash, after years of study, put together a plan to improve mental health services for people who need it most, including individuals who are incarcerated, or homeless, as well as those experiencing a mental health crisis. That plan resulted in the Proposition 1 ballot initiative.

This community has proved it cares about issues addressed in this plan. Issues like finding alternatives to incarceration; bolstering a nationally recognized re-entry program serving individuals where they are — in jail — in the hopes they will never be incarcerated again; adding a specialty unit at the jail for those who have mental illnesses; as well funding for a crisis intervention center across from Bert Nash.

The question before voters is not whether to improve the jail, but how to finance the project. If the proposal is financed through a sales tax, it will also fund the mental health initiatives and help Bert Nash fulfill our mission of responding to needs, restoring lives and building a healthy community.

The more I learned about this project, the more passionate of a supporter I’ve become. There’s a financial price tag attached to this proposal, but there’s an even greater price tag for not doing it, a human one.


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