In a project scheduled to open in mid-2017, the Adams County Jail is remodeling a section, or dorm, to become a mental health facility. The goal is to lower the rate of recidivism and length of stay for inmates with behavioral health …
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In a project scheduled to open in mid-2017, the Adams County Jail is remodeling a section, or dorm, to become a mental health facility. The goal is to lower the rate of recidivism and length of stay for inmates with behavioral health disorders.“A lot of times the jails start to become the place where those that are struggling with mental health issues and aren’t getting help end up,” said Sheriff Michael McIntosh, who pitched this project to the county commissioners a year and a half ago.The county partners with Community Reach Center, a local nonprofit that provides mental and physical health services, to provide the treatment and care that those struggling with behavioral health disorders need inside the jail.This partnership started in 2008 and Community Reach Center now has 12.5 staff working inside the jail, including therapists and transitional employees who work to connect inmates with care after release.“Currently, you’ll see my team grabbing their laptops and providing services wherever the services are needed,” said Abigail Tucker, Clinical Director of Intensive Services.The new $3 million wing will create a formal space for the Community Reach Center team to provide care.The Community Reach Center will be training 10 new deputies, who were approved in the 2017 Adams County budget, on suicide prevention and how to handle security inside the new mental health pod. These new employees were a separate line item in the 2017 budget and will cost $508,750.“There is some interest from deputies for that specific posting or position,” Tucker said with excitement. She has been working with Adams County since 2009, has high praise for the partnership and looks forward to updating the space where her team can provide treatment.“It should look like an inpatient hospital,” she said, describing the pod. “We provide the same groups of curriculum in jail and in our justice outpatient team.”When inmates who have worked with Community Reach Center leave the jail, they are scheduled for follow-up appointments with the closest or most convenient mental health provider within the center’s directory of providers across the state.The idea is the follow-up appointment setting will be reminiscent of the mental health wing within the jail, to lessen the shock of rejoining the community.“It’s a dorm that already exists within a jail that we are basically retrofitting,” McIntosh said. “There will be about 30 mental health beds.”Upon entering the jail, inmates are screened on a medical and mental health evaluation to determine what type of treatment or care they need, according to McIntosh.The Adams County Jail is in the beginnings of using Justice Information Portal, an electronic database that will track anonymous data to create aggregate numbers on rates of recidivism.“With (the Justice Information Portal) we can start creating a baseline,” Tucker said.High rates of behavioral healthdisorders inside the jailAccording to McIntosh, 23-27 percent of all inmates—the jail houses about 950 a day—have behavioral health disorders. That would be roughly between 220-255, although Tucker believes it may be much higher according to new data coming out of the portal.Supported by initial data coming out of the dashboard, 40 to 50 percent of inmates are diagnosed with a behavioral health disorder of some degree. The Community Reach Center staff, working seven days a week at the jail, see anywhere from 800-1,000 inmates a month.County Commissioner Eva Henry, who was a part of approving the mental health wing, is in support of the project.“We might have someone that has schizophrenia housed in the same jail cell as someone who doesn’t,” Henry said, and the new mental health pod will prevent that.The Adams County Jail has the space to remodel a pod, according to Henry.“We don’t utilize the entire jail,” she said. “All we had to do is remodel a pod, a section of the jail, to make it more conducive for a mental health facility.”According to McIntosh, the 10 deputies who will be transitioned to the new mental health pod will begin training in January so they are ready to begin working on the updated floor when it starts up in July or August.
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