Corrections, Detention, and Jail-Related News
‘It saved my life’ | Harris County program diverts low-level offenders with mental illness from jail to treatment
HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — More than a third of inmates at the Harris County jail are taking psychotropic medications.
A year ago, the county began a program to divert low level offender with mental issues from jail to treatment.
The jail houses more mental health patients on any given day than all 10 state hospitals combined.
The county started diverting suspects from jail last September.
LaFAYETTE — Chambers County Sheriff Sid Lockhart said he is entirely behind the Chambers County Commission’s efforts to treat mental health needs inside the county jail.
Through a program called “Stepping Up,” the county commission will establish a group to examine more ways to help inmates with mental health problems while incarcerated. The commission passed a resolution this past week, following suit with several other Alabama counties.
Lockhart said the program is needed because the sheriff’s office is limited in what it can do once charges are filed.
“The only thing we can do is put them in jail,” he said. “It is sad, but they have closed down so many mental health facilities over the years, and we have so many who need mental health treatment. I think this is a good step.”
Summit County jail adds mental health navigator to help inmates transition to life after incarceration
BRECKENRIDGE — Summit County officials are hopeful that recent changes at the Summit County Detention Facility will help to reduce rates of recidivism among incarcerated individuals dealing with mental health and substance abuse issues.
Last week, the Summit County Sheriff’s Office introduced a new mental health navigator position at the jail, a move meant to ensure individuals receive the proper care for their mental health and addiction issues, both in custody and after their release.
“The goal is to have less recidivism in the jail,” said Sheriff Jaime FitzSimons, who made the addition of the navigator position a key point in his campaign last year. “We want fewer people coming into the jail that have committed a crime because they’re in crisis, or because they have a substance use disorder, and they’ve committed a crime to maintain their substance use. … I think we will see a big community impact.”
SARASOTA — As Sarasota County Sheriff Tom Knight’s tenure winds down, he hopes to tackle a question that has loomed over the community since he took office more than a decade ago, in 2008: What, if anything, can be done about a consistently overcrowded, overwhelmed and aging Sarasota County Jail?
He’ll be the first one to tell you that he’s “just one part of the system,” but that won’t stop him from trying to get something done during his remaining time. With any luck, he won’t be alone in advocating for a resolution. He didn’t seem like a lone wolf on Tuesday.
People with mental health and substance use disorders frequently cycle in and out of jail. It can be difficult for someone to get better when floating between jails, homeless shelters, group homes and emergency departments.
Officials at the Pitt County Sheriff’s Department noticed this pattern and they’re making changes to reduce recidivism rates and get these people the help they need.
The Pitt County department has a jail “navigator” who helps place people into safe housing and reconnect them to benefits upon their release. The sheriff’s office is also preparing to launch a new treatment program for drug users housed in the jail.
A new study offers a solution to the problems of jail overcrowding and recidivism in Michigan: Invest more in mental health and drug treatment.
Wayne State University’s Center for Behavioral Health and Justice spent five years reviewing treatment and jail-diversion programs in 10 counties. Researchers found that people who got treatment for mental health disorders were less likely to return to jail.
“Training law enforcement to recognize the signs and symptoms of mental illness is really important,” says Sheryl Kubiak, dean of WSU’s School of Social Work who led the study. “When we did pre- and post-interviews, officers would tell us things like they didn’t believe in mental illness, they just thought it was bad behavior.”