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Tulsa County DA's office awarded $1.6 million to provide mental health and substance abuse resources


The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office has been awarded $1.6 million in federal funding to help provide resources for defendants struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues while they're in jail and after they've been released.

District Attorney Steve Kunzweiler said substance abuse fuels a lot of criminal activity in Tulsa County.

He says these federal funds will help his office to intercept those struggling individuals as early as possible

"The sooner we can capture that information and do some data collection on it, the sooner we can start tracking outcomes for those individuals," the district attorney explained.

Kunzweiler said those caught in the throes of addiction aren't typically thinking about reforming their criminal conduct when they enter the courtroom.

"What they're hoping for more than anything else is to get some type of probationary sentence," Kunzweiler said. "Because as soon as they get out of jail or as soon as they get put on probation, they're not interested in necessarily rehabilitating their criminal conduct they're focused on trying to get their next rock of crack cocaine or hit of methamphetamine or their next access to an opiate."

The district attorney said he's noticed that often times what contributes to higher incarceration rates are people continuing to commit criminal offenses while trying to "feed their drug habits."

Kunzweiler says tracking that kind of data will help his office's approach to prosecution and will help get people the resources they need.

The $1.6 million in federal funding comes after Kunzweiler's calls for mental health funding statewide following an incident involving his daughter back in September.

Before making her way to Public Radio Tulsa, KWGS News Director Cassidy Mudd worked as an assignment editor and digital producer at a local news station. Her work has appeared on ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates across the country.