Collaboration with the Summit County Jail Continues
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The Summit County Sheriff's office and the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health (ADM) Services Board are working together to best address issues surrounding people with serious mental illness in the jail. We continue to work to coordinate services to ensure that those who serve time in jail receive the treatment and supports they need both during their incarceration and after release. This summary provides a progress report on the collaborative venture that has spanned over several years and demonstrates the will of this community to confront this issue head-on.
We stand together to educate the community about this issue and we will continue to work to develop solutions that will further reduce the number of persons with serious mental illness in the County jail.
In partnership with the courts, social service providers, and the faith community, we have developed programs aimed at preventing those with serious mental illness being inappropriately placed in the criminal justice system. For those that do serve time, this collaboration helps to provide better follow-up and supports to keep them from returning.
In 2009, community stakeholders and decision makers in and around the criminal justice and mental health systems participated in a system mapping exercise, where key points of contact with the criminal justice system were identified and “intercept points” were targeted to divert those with mental illnesses into treatment. Since this time, resources have been devoted on improvements at these key intercept points prior to arrest, during arraignment, incarceration, and post incarceration.
These efforts have resulted in adding a mental health liaison to the courts, increasing successful diversion programs, such as the addition of a mental health court at the Stow Municipal Court, improvements in access to care and medications for those incarcerated, a program to transition releases to treatment, and plans to develop an intensive services team targeting those who have been involved in the criminal justice system to minimize the risk of recidivism.
Medications are reaching more persons in the jail, as evidenced by a 36% increase in expenditures for jail medications. In our 2012 mental health funding of the jail, we increased funding for psychiatry and have worked with the Sheriff’s office to improve service coverage and access to deliver these services.
There is some promising news to be found, as over the recent years there have been few critical incidents in the jail. Dr. Margaret Severson, in a recent consultive report by the National Institute of Corrections, indicated Summit County jail has a smaller proportion of persons with severe and persistant mental health disorders than other like insitutions around the country.This may be attributable to responsive crisis psychiatric services and specialized law enforcement training already occurring in the community.
The Sheriff’s office is continuing to insure that more deputies receive Crisis Intervention Team training, a specialized training to help law enforcement and first responders work more effectively with those who may have symptoms of a mental illness. To date, over 120 deputies have completed the intensive 40-hour training, and more training is planned.
We are proud of the innovation that our community has shown in developing effective programming, but acknowledge that we have more work to do. We are committed to continue to work with the Sheriff’s office, the criminal justice system and other organizations to develop solutions to this serious community problem.