County’ Public Defender’s Office Creates High-Level Position Focused Exclusively on Mental Health

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In a major step toward increased focus on mental health issues, Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office has created a new position of the chief of mental health and named Greg Nester (l) to the new position. Nestor and Cara McMenamin (r), his counterpart in the DA’s office, hope an increased focus at the county level will speed up the process of getting people out of the county jail and into a facility that can properly address mental illness. Image via KYW News Radio.

In a major step toward increased focus on mental health issues, Montgomery County Public Defender’s Office has created a high-level position focusing exclusively on that important issue, writes Jim Melwert for the KYW Newsradio.

The office appointed Greg Nester as its chief of mental health.

“Before the creation of a dedicated position, it was just every attorney had to figure it out sort of for themselves,” said Nester.

People who have mental issues and are arrested are more likely to spend more time incarcerated, said Nester. It is more difficult for them to be paroled and they have a higher rate of recidivism, which translates to more time in prison and higher costs to house inmates.

This makes identifying possible mental health concerns as early as possible a crucial part of Nester’s role.

“So that we can reduce the length of time in jail, connect them with community services and give them tools to succeed in the community so they do not re-offend,” he said.

Nester will also coordinate with the district attorney’s office on cases involving mental health issues along with assisting private attorneys.

Read more about the new position at the KYW Newsradio by clicking here.

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