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Sheriff seeks help for inmate; mental health system 'broken'

Posted at 3:55 PM, Feb 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-10 15:56:22-05

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. (AP/FOX 17) — A sheriff in Michigan's Upper Peninsula is using social media to plead for assistance for a mentally ill jail inmate.

Chippewa County Sheriff Michael Bitnar posted a long message on Facebook, saying Michigan's mental health system is "broken.”

"Our problem is all the different agencies who work with these situations don't want to, or can't help. This is not a unique situation as I have seen it over and over the past several years," the post says.

The sheriff says he's tried “over and over” to get help for the man, a Vietnam veteran. Bitnar says the man was found incompetent to stand trial in December, but a bed at a state psychiatric hospital won't be available until June.

Bitnar said the man doesn't need to sit in a correctional facility, but needs to receive professional mental health care.