Mental health and prosecution
Our County Prosecutor Noelle Moeggenberg has asked commissioners for money ($69K) to add another assistant prosecutor (seven total prosecutors now). Part of her stated reason is to prosecute MIDC (MI Indigent Defense Commission) defendants. See Oct. 29 Record-Eagle. Hmm. We don't need another prosecutor. Her office needs to prosecute fewer mentally ill and drug-addicted individuals and reroute these folks into treatment from the start. As a result of over-zealous prosecution, sick people go to jail, are forever caught up in the legal system, incur tremendous fees and then maybe as part of probation get treatment.
If Ms. Moeggenberg needs additional staff, it should be a mental health professional to screen and divert people into the right treatment and rehab services immediately and make sure they follow through. This is much more consistent with the Governor's Task Force on Criminal Justice Reform. We want our prosecutor’s office to take bold, new steps to address the mental health and drug addiction crises in our community. No one benefits from locking up these vulnerable populations. NAMI, BDAI and others are working hard to establish more treatment/centers in northern Michigan. We need our prosecutor to support these efforts for treatment and rehabilitation.