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updated: 3/25/2014 1:28 PM

Dart to testify before congressional subcommittee

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  • Sheriff Tom Dart

    Sheriff Tom Dart

Daily Herald report

Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart will testify March 26 at a congressional hearing on the nation's mental health system.

The hearing, "Where Have All the Patients Gone? Examining the Psychiatric Bed Shortage" is being held by the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, part of the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) invited Dart to testify based on his nationally-publicized campaign to raise awareness of how jails have become the "new asylums."

Dart has publicly decried the cuts to mental health services in Illinois as well as the closures of several large state mental health hospitals and half of the mental health clinics in Chicago. The lack of access to care for the seriously mentally ill has yielded what Dart calls the de facto criminalization of mental illness.

He considers the Cook County Jail to be the largest mental health facility in the country, with approximately 30 percent of the inmate population suffering from serious mental illness on any given day.

The hearing will begin at 9 a.m. Wednesday in the Rayburn House Office Building. The webcast will be available at

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