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Snyder Lays Out Civil Rights Plans At Commission Meeting

Governor Rick Snyder says improving services for the mentally ill is a major civil rights issue. And he says it’s a high priority in his second term.

“Mental health is its own issue in its own right, a major issue. We’ve seen some huge progress because of Healthy Michigan. But I think we still have a lot of work to be done in general mental health and where it intersects with criminal justice,” he told the Michigan Civil Rights Commission. “I think too often we still may be incarcerating people that have a mental health issue when we should be looking at options and alternatives to get them the proper treatment so they can be on a path to success.”

The governor says helping prisoners re-enter society and find employment is a priority of his second term.

The governor also told the Civil Rights Commission he also wants to create an African American commission; do more to make Michigan attractive to immigrants; and work more closely with Native American tribes.

The governor also repeated that he’d like the Michigan Legislature to take up expanding the state’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act to protect LGBT people from discrimination in housing and employment.

This may be the first time sitting governor has appeared before the commission since it was inaugurated by Governor George Romney 50 years ago.

Rick Pluta is the managing editor for the Michigan Public Radio Network.