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Winona Daily News: Al Franken visits Winona, talks mental health challenges in criminal justice system

People with mental illnesses are making up an increasing percentage of jail inmates in Winona County and across the U.S. Once in jail, it’s hard for people to get the help they need, and many end up leaving jail in worse condition than when they were arrested.

U.S. Sen. Al Franken met with Winona leaders Thursday afternoon to discuss challenges, collaborations, and next steps relating to mental health in the criminal justice system.

Across the board, they agreed on several key issues. Access to care, both outpatient and inpatient, remains out of reach for many due to lack of hospital beds and psychiatrists. Jails are no place for people struggling with mental illness, but many of them end up staying — and returning — because there is nowhere else to go.

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