In a recent editorial board meeting organized to discuss the topic of mental health, state Sen. Marc R. Pacheco was asked whether anyone had studied how much it costs to treat inmates with mental health issues in the corrections system instead of the health care system. Wouldn't it make sense to have a commission look into it, he was asked?
He said the Legislature indeed formed such a commission, but about three-quarters of the way through the task and with no word on progress, he learned the contractor hadn't even read the Legislature's directive. Further frustrating Pacheco was the difficulty the contractor had taking a thorough look at a system run by a state agency that regularly hired the contractor for mental health services.
It was that frustration that prompted Pacheco to get some answers himself. He and staffers reached out to Massachusetts sheriffs to learn what they could about how many inmates with mental health issues they were housing.