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updated: 8/6/2013 4:12 PM

Cook County jail to help mentally ill inmates

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Associated Press

The Cook County sheriff's office is launching an effort to help mentally ill jail inmates before and after they are released.

Sheriff Tom Dart's office said he is establishing the Office of Mental Health Policy and Advocacy. The sheriff also is starting a 24-hour mental health hotline that's exclusively for those who have been released from jail and the families of people still in jail.

Dart said he's hoping the mentally ill can find help so they don't commit crimes again and end up back behind bars.

Cook County's jail is the largest single-site jail in the nation. Dart's office said that out of the 10,000 people locked up, as many as 2,500 of them are mentally ill.

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