Fulton County DA Fani Willis Partners with MSM to Help Inmate's Mental Health
The new program will help certain people convicted of a crime not only get out of
prison early but also get them the mental health services they need.
Fani Willis Fulton County District Attorney
By Tyler Fingert, Fox 5 Atlanta
ATLANTA - Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis says mental health is a real problem
that she cannot prosecute her way out of. Instead, she is turning to professionals
at Morehouse School of Medicine to help inmates transition to life outside, so they
do not end up back behind bars.
"I am tired of seeing that we are using our prisons and our jail systems as mental
health wards," she said.
Willis announced a new partnership with Morehouse School of Medicine. The program
is for those who have been exonerated of a crime or who have been convicted but are
eligible for a sentence reduction. She says both of those situations are something
her office has focused on since she was elected, and now this program will also let
her help prisoners with mental health issues.
"This is yet another program to say, ‘Hey, we want to release you early from prison,
we want to restore you,’" Willis said. "’We want you to be a productive member of
society, but we realize you have some struggles.’"
The Prison Policy Initiative says more than 40 percent of people in prisons have been
diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
The program is made possible by a federal grant, and it hopes to help at least 120
people in the next year and a half.
"What we’ve talked about is having a comprehensive mental health evaluation while
they’re still incarcerated," said Dr. Sarah Vinson, Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral
Science at Morehouse School of Medicine.
The program is expected to help reduce the chance of someone getting arrested again.
Willis said this is about getting services to those who need it and making sure they
have support once they get out of prison.
"We do think this is a very unique program and that it is a great way to restore some
faith in the justice system, some faith in the medical profession," she said. "To
really put health services around people."
The program is expected to officially start in January.
Willis said this is a dream come true and believes it can do some real good.