As I pick up my daily paper in my driveway, I notice the sub-title first “JAILS FACE BURDEN OF CARING FOR MENTALLY ILL INMATES“…
I knew this would be one Sunday page to blog about! I took my meds (willing I may add) and started reading, and reading and reading the facts. The facts about our jail systems and the percentages of mentally ill make you sick. With about 700 in the Charlotte County Jail almost 289 have a diagnosed mental illness!
“At any time, we’re looking at approximately a third of our inmate population as… diagnosed with a mental illness”
“Jail is not where these people need to be, We’re not treatment providers.”
Says Maj. Earl Goodwyne Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office Bureau of Detention Commander.
I agree “these people,” people living/suffering with mental illnesses are in need of compassion and understanding, education and treatment. Not just pills and bars. Yet, “those people” as sad as this may sound are in the mental health system. It’s a dwindling system with many people on the outside never getting help and suffer in silence. It’s only the “squeaky wheels” the public nuance types that end up in the jails that are revolving doors.
Capt. Melissa Turney Charlotte Assistant Jail Commander states “Jail is a very short-term solution.”
How True Captain Turney is. If we all understand how the jail system is set-up, do you know the difference between jail and prison?
What’s The Difference Between Jail & Prison?
First by its nature, ALL jails are a “Revolving Door” since they are set up to house and operate on a short-term basis. Here’s what The Broward Sheriff’s Office which has 10th largest local jail system in the United States says:
Jails are most often run by sheriffs and/or local governments and are designed to hold individuals awaiting trial or are serving short sentences (in Florida, inmates serving 364 days or less serve their time in jail).
Prisons are operated by state governments and the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP) and are designed to hold individuals convicted of crimes.
Jails operate work release programs, boot camps, and other specialized services. They try to address educational needs, substance abuse needs, and vocational needs while managing inmate behavior. Inmate idleness contributes to management problems. – The Broward Sheriff’s Office http://sheriff.org/faqs
IN A PERFECT WORLD – Jails are set up to help the inmate educational needs, substance abuse needs, and vocational needs while managing inmate behavior…mental health needs. In this first part by ADAM KREGER the Roundtable article (Part Two is due out on Monday February 24th) paints a bleak story of the mentally ill in the jail system. You read how stretched thin many budgets really are and why the term Revolving Jail Door for the mentally ill who are diagnosed really fits the description.
Local Needs – Charlotte Behavioral Health Care
“State funding is shrinking. … The problem we have now is going to get worse.”
Says Jay Glynn, Charlotte Behavioral Health Care CEO.
Where can you go for help? There are places for mentally ill outside of jail. There are programs but as Assistant State Attorney and Charlotte County court chief Ronald C. Smith says they are stretched thin!
“We do have a Drug Court and a Mental Health Court, (Anyone can refer a person to those courts), But it takes a lot of things to get in there, because it’s almost a competitive situation…There aren’t enough openings…(between 20 and 30 people on probation or sentenced in the Mental Health Court at any one time). They are monitored, assisted and treated by Charlotte Behavioral Health Care – People that get that help for their condition won’t go back and commit more crimes.”
Charlotte Sun Newspaper
The following is a direct quote from: The Charlotte Sun Newspaper Sunday, February 23, 2014 Our Town Pg 11.
However Charlotte Behavioral Health Care — a mental health and substance abuse treatment facility in Punta Gorda — has lost more than $1 million in state funding over the past five years, according to CEO Jay Glynn.
“The recidivism rate (for Mental Health Court) is very good,” he said. “It’s a very successful program. The problem is, we don’t have enough beds for it. State funding keeps shrinking.” Glynn pointed out Florida ranks 49th of 50 states in terms of mental health funding. And even that allotted money is about to be cut.
“The problem we have now is going to get worse,” Glynn said. “Florida is now going to managed care statewide. Our area is going to get hit with this starting June 1. Why this is going to make things worse is because our Medicaid contracts are the only contracts we have that we’re making a profit on. Those are all going to be taken over by (health maintenance organizations) next year.”
He said his agency has calculated its estimated additional losses to be around $650,000. Glynn said surrounding counties will suffer too.
Unless things change, jails will continue to face the burden of caring for — or trying to care for— the mentally ill.