CBS New York

NEW YORK (AP) _ The city is making a new effort to channel mentally ill people who get arrested into treatment instead of jail, if they don’t need to be there, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Sunday.

Citing statistics showing that people with mental health problems tend to spend extended time behind bars for lack of bail money, officials said they aimed to do better at assessing defendants’ psychiatric needs and meeting them in the least restrictive setting that’s appropriate.

“If more New Yorkers who need mental health care and community support can be helped to get their lives on track when they’ve run afoul of the law, we will all be better off,” Bloomberg said in a statement after announcing the initiative on his weekly radio show. “No one needs to be reminded anymore of just how important it is to get this group of people the care they need.”

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