Tight budgets can emphasize creative ideas

Published 9:35 am Thursday, January 6, 2011

Officials on every level of government will have tougher-than-usual decisions to make at budget-writing time early next year.

We see one silver lining in this dark cloud, though: increased interest in innovative programs and services that get the job done without costing taxpayers a fortune.

One program with such potential is in Stark County: the mental-health court that just “graduated” its first five participants.

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The Polaris Program offers a helping hand to misdemeanor offenders who have been diagnosed with a mental illness.

If they follow their treatment plan, take any medications they’ve been prescribed, meet regularly with their probation officer and a case manager, and stay out of trouble, they also stay out of jail or avoid house arrest and other alternative sentences. …

And if they succeed in doing the work required of them for as long as two years, society is spared considerable expense. …

If even a fraction of the 55 current Polaris participants are successful, the cost to help them keep their lives together will be far less than the expense of incarcerating them. That’s a good outcome at any time but even more so when budgets are tight.

The (Canton) Repository