The McLean County Jail is rated one of the top county facilities in the country and is considering an expansion of the mental illness facility. (Photo By Paul Morello/WJBC)
By Paul Morello
BLOOMINGTON - McLean County Sheriff Mike Emery and the Illinois Sheriffs' Association want the gun debate to focus more on mental health issues, and not on banning assault weapons.
The ISA recently adopted a resolution opposing Illinois' proposed assault weapon ban.
"The ban is not going after what we believe, in the Sheriffs' Association, is the primary issue," Emery said. "The issue is we need mental health services upgrades. We need to do a better job."
Emery said the proposed ban is also a violation of Second Amendment rights.
"The Second Amendment seems to be under attack daily now. I think the sheriffs are saying that we should go to the root of the problem, which is mental health illnesses," he said.
In a release, the ISA lists a number of ways to begin to tackle gun violence besides expansion of mental health illness treatment, including law enforcement access to mental health records, addressing violent video games, and vigorous prosecution of those who violate existing gun laws.
Mental health issues have recently been a high priority at the McLean County Jail. A full assessment of the jail's handling of mentally ill inmates was recently completed, showing that the facility was one of the nation's best county jails.
However, Emery said some mentally ill inmates still fall through the cracks once they are released.
"What have we accomplished in the jail to help the mental health of this individual, if when we release him there's nothing in place for that individual to follow up with. There's a delay in services or no services available and then that person recycles back into our jail," Emery said.
The jail assessment suggests expansion for a mental health facility, which Emery said is being considered.
Paul Morello can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.