Twitter town hall focuses on mental illness, gun violence

June 23, 2017
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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart and Cook County Commissioner Richard Boykin teamed up earlier this week to discuss mental health and gun violence in a live Twitter town hall.

AustinTalks moderated the conversation, asking the elected officials questions sent in by community members online using the hashtags #AskBoykin and #AskDart.

The following summary of the live chat has been edited for clarity:

AT: Why this topic now? Why is it so important to you personally?

Boykin: Because the safety of the people I represent is my No. 1 priority.

Dart: When the criminal justice system is this broken, it’s wrong from both moral and fiscal standpoints, destroys and bankrupts our communities.

AT: Let’s talk mental health and gun violence. How do they intersect, and can you tackle violence with healthcare?

Boykin: I think that gun violence is a public health issue. A lot of people pulling the trigger suffer from mental illness.

Dart: Every minute cops spend addressing untreated mental illness is a minute they’re unable to address to ongoing gun violence.

AT: With limited funding, how can those with mental illness get help?

Boykin: We need to expand community mental health clinics and utilize closed schools to treat people.

Dart: Unfortunately, the only treatment many of these people get is in my jail. Shameful. Lucky to have partnerships with organizations like NAMI Chicago (National Alliance on Mental Illness).

AT: What can advocates do to support change? For both violence prevention and mental health advocacy.

Boykin: By letting your voices be heard, and by joining us on June 26 at [noon]! (For information below)

Dart: [We] must reach vulnerable young men on front end, before point of no return. See our new SAVE program in the jail.

AT: Finally, what if any, advantages does Chicago have at its disposal to combat mental health and gun violence problems?

Boykin: We have [Cook County Health and Hospitals System] that’s actually doing research right now on gun violence and [the] most compassionate sheriff, Tom Dart, in the nation.

Dart: The national attention means these issues can’t be slid under the rug or sugarcoated. [There is] no choice but to address [it] quickly and thoughtfully.

For those who missed the conversation but would like to see the questions, answers and additional follow-up questions as they were posted, as well as community input, follow @AustinTalks on Twitter or search the hashtags above.






Twitter chat with:


Richard Boykin

Tom Dart

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