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Monday, July 28, 2014

Ind. Gov't. - "Howard County jail has become the largest mental-health facility in north central Indiana"

That was from the headline to this lengthy July 14th story in the Kokomo Tribune, reported by Carson Gerber. A few quotes, beginning with the editor's note:

Editor's note: People suffering from mental illness commit fewer than 4 percent of all violent crimes. But state cuts in mental health funding have limited opportunities for treatment before some people wind up on the wrong side of the law. Today, the Kokomo Tribune begins a series exploring the network available to people in need of services. * * *

The Howard County jail is full of people like Lewis — people in need of mental health treatment with no criminal history whose illness causes them to act out and end up on the wrong side of the law.

“We are here for people who commit crimes,” said Howard County Jail Commander Capt. Harold Vincent. “Unfortunately, we see a lot of people commit crimes who have a mental illness. This is not the place for those folks.”

“That’s the frustrating thing for jail officers,” [Ken Gardner, a master-level therapist clinician who serves as the jail’s on-call therapist] said. “These are people who really need to be in a mental health facility where they can be medicated and treated daily.”

Despite that, the jail is the place where most people in Howard County suffering from a mental illness end up.

Howard County Sheriff Steve Rogers said the jail holds more people in need of mental health treatment or who have been in the mental health system than Community Howard Regional Health. Community Howard is designated as a community mental health center by the Indiana Department of Mental Health and Addiction.

The hospital serves Howard, Tipton and Clinton counties, which have a combined population of about 131,000.

In fact, more people receive mental health treatment at the Howard County jail than at any other facility in north central Indiana, the sheriff said.

Currently, more than 20 percent of the jail’s 375 inmates are on psychotropic drugs to help treat mental illnesses, Vincent said. More than 40 percent are involved in some kind of therapy or counseling.

“The jail environment is meant to contain people,” Gardner said. “We’re not in a position to house multiple mental health patients. The jail is the largest mental health provider in north central Indiana that shouldn’t be one.”

So how did a county jail built with just two padded rooms end up treating more mental illness than any other facility in the area?

That was just the beginning of the first story in the series.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 28, 2014 09:28 AM
Posted to Indiana Government