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Federal government helps fund jail alternative

By Matt Sepic, KWMU

St. Louis, MO – The federal government is giving St. Louis city officials $1.2 million to treat mentally ill drug offenders.

The money will let the city's human services department expand a program that's meant to be an alternative to jail.

Jim Shrewsbury is the president of the Board of Aldermen. He says the program is not for everyone convicted of a drug crime.

"What this will do," Shrewsbury said. "Is some individuals who are arrested, instead of going through the normal process, they will be diverted into a program with the hopes that by correcting the mental illness, we can resolve the crime problem."

Shrewsbury says violent or repeat offenders will not be eligible for the program.

The money is coming from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

The city must provide more than $400,000 in matching funds.


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