- Associated Press - Friday, May 1, 2015

BELLINGHAM, Wash. (AP) - Whatcom County Council members are considering a task force to work on incorporating alcohol and drug treatment programs with a new jail proposal that’s been years in the making.

The Bellingham Herald reports (https://bit.ly/1AoZc7M) the cost of replacing the current jail is at more than $122 million and lawmakers want to reduce that cost and the growing jail population by providing effective mental health and substance abuse treatment.

Voters could be asked to pass a bond in November to fund the project, and lawmakers say some kind of diversion program would help gain public approval.

Council members are meeting May 5 to discuss creating the Criminal Justice Diversion Task Force. About $75,000 has been set aside for the group to explore building a facility run by the North Sound Mental Health Administration.

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Information from: The Bellingham Herald, https://www.bellinghamherald.com

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