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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

An article published by the Great Bend Tribune brought attention to a problem that is occurring nationwide. It involves a crisis team looking into jail overcrowding due to the wrong placement and conviction of people with mental health issues. They are not criminals but often jailed for minor offenses which creates overcrowding. Instead of being sent to a mental health treatment center or being provided resources to help with their mental issues, they sit in jail. Some are brought in on minor charges such as disturbing the public or being in places they were asked to leave from. They have not necessarily committed a crime but still are sent to jail until they can be transferred somewhere if need be or released. This problem has been brought to the attention of many in the county of Great Bend and a conference is being held at The Center for Counseling and Consultation to talk about solving the issue of overcrowding related to mental health issues.

Dr. Tom Bauer, MD, a retired internist, and Julie Kramp, executive director at The Center, have brought people together to create a solution for this growing problem. “We’re trying to put together a CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) for Barton and hopefully surrounding counties” says Kramp. With this team they are hoping it will help reduce the estimated 10% of jail populations that are not supposed to be in jail due to mental health issues. The team will take on offenders struggling with mental health issues and properly place them where need be, instead of keeping them in jail and using up limited resources. With this large of a percentage being in jail for the wrong reasons it is causing a backup for release and overcrowding in facilities. Now more than two dozen community leaders are involved in creating the Great Bend/Barton Crisis Intervention Task Force and they are hopeful they will bring about this necessary change to keep people struggling with mental illness out of jail and placing them in the right facility they need. 

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Community Supervision

An article published by The Mercury News talks about how Contra Costa County might temporarily stop collecting certain court fees from people facing criminal charges or getting out of jail. Justice reform advocates argue it is an unfair burden for the poor as they cannot afford the fees and struggle to pay them. The Board of Supervisors met two weeks ago to consider suspending the fees until the end of the year and possibly permanently eliminate them. The fees in consideration of suspension are probation report fees, public defenders’ fees and fees for alternative custody programs, including electronic monitoring and work alternatives to jail time. To make it fair for all people, the fees would be waived for everyone in court, not just those who cannot afford them. 

The fees can add up to thousands of dollars, adding additional stress to those who are transitioning out of the criminal justice system and back into society, as many do not have a job or support system to help them pay the fees. However, eliminating these fees runs the risk of losing around $1.8 million spent on court programs and operations. This would cause the courts to decide which programs to reduce or eliminate and how to deal with this loss of revenue each year. The court system is willing to work on finding the money elsewhere as the fees create huge barriers to people re-integrating into society successfully and debt free. 

The move to eliminate these fees for people has moved in the right direction and has support from district supervisors and governmental officials. Since 2017, California has been moving in the direction of not collecting fees from families and focusing on helping people rehabilitate and become functioning members of society again. Contra Costa County is hopeful they will be able to help people coming out of jail by not having to pay the fees and saving them thousands of dollars that can be put to good use for themselves and their families. 

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Jail Overcrowding

Harold Edward Hill described his experience inside Madison County Detention Center in an article published by the Lexington Herald Leader. The detention center is known for its overcrowding and high-volume population, that the facility simply cannot keep up with. The conditions he describes are some people would never want to be exposed to or have to live with. He describes water leaking from walls causing mold, overcrowding, filth, sweltering heat, spoiled food and violence caused by other inmates. Those in the facility would sleep on concrete grounds without so much as a cot or mat and would be confined to spaces so small at some points they would be touching other inmates. With so many issues, it causes mental health breakdowns and many health issues that the inmates are unable to resolve. 

Harold filed a lawsuit including all these details, which were verified by reports filed by inspectors for the Kentucky Department of Corrections. All these issues are due to overcrowding and overpopulation in the facility. The Madison County jail is aware of the conditions and states “This is, and has been, an ongoing problem that we try to accommodate to the best of our ability.” The jail is built to hold 184 people but recently has held more than 400 people. With so many people and so little space, it is causing serious conflict and health violations.

Overcrowding is a problem in most facilities across the United States and many do not have the resources to deal with overcrowding or options to send inmates to other facilities to reduce prison populations. They are fined based on the violations but are struggling with finding solutions to reduce overcrowding. The Madison County jail is working to reduce these inhumane living conditions that inmates face but can only do so much with limited access to resources, space and funding. 

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Jail Overcrowding

The Loveland Reporter-Herald recently published an article about authorizing financing for a jail expansion project in Larimer County. A week ago, the Larimer County commissioners voted to issue $75 million in certificates of participation to finance the expansion of Larimer County Jail. It was the final piece of a three-part measure to address issues of overcrowding and community needs. The county will make annual payments over the next 15 years to pay for the expansion project. 

The committee that oversees the jail expansion is focused on creating more space for inmates in the jail to alleviate overcrowding. They also are concerned with creating better rehabilitative processes and programs surrounding mental health, education and substance abuse. The committee fully agrees that these are important matters to be considered and to put money towards but their priority for now is working on providing more space and dealing with issues of overcrowding. The court systems cannot always keep up with the number of cases it has, so people awaiting trial are stuck in jail until they have their hearing, leading to overcrowding. 

With the $75 million budget for renovations and expansion of the jail, the county can improve the overcrowding issue and add to the facility to house more people. 

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

After discovering that 24 adolescent girls were being confined to buildings with fire risks, holes in the walls, mold and water damage, Nebraska authorities have moved them to another facility. The girls were living in the Geneva Youth Rehabilitation and Treatment Center, a rural central Nebraska state-run facility for female juvenile offenders. The inhabitants, ranging from ages 14-18, were sent to the facility as a last resort by the court. Many of them have significant behavioral and mental health problems.

Four state legislators visited the campus unannounced and outlined decrepit circumstances in several of the four campus houses. “It was far worse than I could have imagined,” said Omaha’s Sen. Sara Howard, chair of the Legislature Health and Human Services Committee. Alarming conditions were discovered at the facility, like something from a horror story. When lawmakers toured the campus they discovered girls confined to empty rooms with nothing to occupy them, rooms without working lights, doors without handles, and one girl was even sleeping on a bed frame without a mattress. At least one girl has found sharp metal inside the holes in the wall and cut herself. Some of the girls even claimed to have been locked in their rooms for up to five days at a time. Several of the rooms had water damage, causing mold and mildew, which can cause serious health risks.

In one building, the mechanism that opens doors when a fire occurs was damaged, meaning if a fire were to happen, the girls would be trapped in their rooms and the doors would have to be individually opened by staff members. Howard said that some of the teenagers used a broom and an electrical cord as weapons and proceeded to barricade themselves into a room with a phone. They called the child abuse hotline, local law enforcement, and their parents before staff were able to defuse the situation. “This is an awful scenario for a place, that five or six years agowas running like a top,” Sen. Howard said. “It’s like we just decided to stop making an investment in these kids.”

There were many shortages of staff in the facility, leaving employees to work very long hours. With such a lack of staff availability, there were very limited programming options and activities for the girls in the facility. In a facility meant to be focused on rehabilitation, programming is a necessity, as is a comfortable and safe environment. “I was frankly dumbfounded by the conditions,” said the inspector general of child welfare, Julie Rogers. “It is one thing to hear allegations of a deteriorated facility. But it’s another thing to see those conditions.”

Danette Smith, the CEO of DHHS, promises that they, in combination with the Administrative Services Department, are committed to restoring the facility and creating rehabilitation programming that works and is reliable. “Our goal is a smooth transition to help the girls acclimate to their routine, which includes school, mental health support, structured activities and recreation. We hope to enhance programming and treatment, and provide an environment that is safe, supportive, and gives youth the opportunity to thrive as they transition from the YRTCs into a successful adulthood.”

The girls have been moved into the YRTC facility for boys in Kearny, and will be secluded from them and will have separate programming times so that they do not interact with the young men.

This relocation ensures that the girls will receive the rehabilitation, care, and programming that they require, while in a safe and positive environment. The relocation will enable the Department of Administrative Services to evaluate the necessary repairs and upgrades to the buildings in the facility and refurbish them. Smith stressed that her biggest concern is ensuring that the facility will be a clean, healthy and safe environment for the girls.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

In the past decade, more and more people have struggled with mental health issues, including depression and thoughts of suicide. Some people struggle with this when recovering from alcohol and substance abuse, as it alters their behavioral and mental health. In a report done by the Behavioral Health Barometer United States, Volume 5, that was prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, statistics were provided regarding mental health issues in U.S. youth and adult citizens.

All ages can struggle with their mental health and in turn this can affect everything in one’s life. Among youth aged 12-17 in the U.S. in 2017, 13.3% (3.2 million) had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. A large percental of the youth demographic sought recovery help with 41.5% (1.3 million) receiving depression care in the past year. Among young adults aged 18-25 in the U.S. in 2017, 10.5% (3.5 million) had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year and 7.5% (2.5 million) had a serious mental illness (SMI) in the past year. Lastly, among adults aged 18 or older in the U.S. in 2017, 4.3% (10.6 million) had serious thoughts of suicide in the past year. Suicide rates have only increased in recent years causing more people to seek to raise awareness surrounding mental health issues and erase the stigma that seeking help is weak and unacceptable.

Many people do not always perceive themselves as having a mental health issue and therefore do not seek help, which can be problematic. TRACKtech.LLC is committed to helping change the behavioral and mental health of program members in the hopes of helping them recover. With access to behavioral health resources and programs, the TRACKphone can provide daily reinforcement and positive messages, calendar reminders for appointments and meetings, and a constant support system if needed. Mental health is an important issue effecting millions of Americans and it’s important to continue to provide supportive systems that encourage people to seek help.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

Many citizens, in the United States and other worldly countries, struggle with an addiction and dependency on substances. According to the Behavioral Health Barometer United Sates, Volume 5, the two most frequently used substances in the U.S. are marijuana and cigarettes, however prescription drugs and other hallucinogenic drugs are becoming increasingly popular. A report prepared for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, provided data statistics regarding alcohol and drug abuse, as well as mental health issues that the general population of the U.S. face. The data collected surveys citizens over the age of 12, including youth and young adults.

As substances become more heavily abused, an individual’s mental and physical health become more endangering to themselves and others. More and more youth and young adults are developing addictions to substances, which can impact the rest of their lives negatively. Among youth aged 12-17 in the U.S. in 2017, 7.9% (2 million) used illicit drugs in the past month. Of the 7.9%, 1.5% reported misusing psychotherapeutic prescription drugs and another 1.35% reported misusing inhalants, hallucinogens, cocaine or heroin. It is an increasing problem that young children have access to behavior altering drugs that are very strong and endangering. Among young adults aged 18-25 in the U.S. in 2017, 14.8% (5.1 million) had a substance use disorder in the past year. As substance use becomes more popular on college campuses, students experiment more and get swept up in misusing drugs. Among people aged 12 or older in the U.S. in 2017, 7.2% (19.7 million) had a substance use disorder in the past year. As people experiment and abuse substances, their risk perceptions are altered and lower, according to the survey, as they do not see overdosing or using the substances as endangering as they are.

With using hallucinate and behavior altering substances, people can have the tendency to commit crimes due to behavioral changes or to pay for the drugs. This can land them in the criminal justice system which then most likely gives way to a trial resulting in some prison time, parole or probation.

TRACKtech. LLC is committed to helping change substance abuse of those entering society, helping reduce recidivism. With the TRACKphone, supervisors are able to locate program members (the offenders) through GPS location monitoring and frequently check-in or establish remote meetings through video-conferencing. This can ensure contact with the program members, providing a support system to help keep them in a healthy and active behavioral state. Different resources and programs are also provided by TRACKtech, in the hopes of helping people stay on their path to recovery and keep control of their lives through supportive means.

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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
The National Alliance of Mental Illness Tri Cities in Washington is scheduled to host a discussion about their “Lourdes Prosecutorial Diversion” program. The program provides another option for law enforcement officers in dealing with low-level, non-violent offenders with symptoms of mental illness. It has been in effect for three years, and it identifies inmates with behavioral health conditions in Benton and Franklin County Jails, particularly where competence issues arise. The vast majority of those with mental health issues are less likely than anyone else to be violent, criminal, or dangerous. According to a study published by American Psychological Association of Crimes committed by those with a mental illness, only 7.5% were directly related to symptoms of a mental disorder. People with mental illnesses are not inherently prone to crime, but for those who have persistent illnesses that are chronic and have reoccurring flare ups that impact their judgement, they may do things they normally would not, such as shoplifting or trespassing.

Jail is not a place conducive to mental health treatment. The program is in effect to engage these patients with treatment so they can return to a functioning and coherent state. Upon completion of the program, which can span from six months to a year, the inmate’s charges will be dropped if they are low level crimes. The inmate will also receive resources such as housing and medical treatment.

A large majority of these inmates are charged for trespassing. Adriana Mercado, the Care Coordinator for the program, states that trespassing is very common because these individuals are symptomatic, or they haven’t been on the proper medications. “It’s really rewarding to get somebody into a home and see that change of behavior” as 50 inmates have successfully finished the program. According to Mercado, the recurrence rate has dropped substantially among these inmates.

The program collaborates with the crisis response and in-patient unit, Transitions, to determine the most suitable placement for each inmate so they can receive medication and work on becoming stable. The end goal of the program is to reduce recidivism for those who already face a very high chance of returning to prison once they are released.

Ken Hohenberg, the Police Chief of Kennewick, has stated that “from my perspective, this is not only going to be able to help keep people out of the criminal justice system that truly don’t belong there, but also provide some hope for their families and friends. We see this as the right thing to do.”
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Emotional and Behavioral Disorders, Recidivism

Behavioral health professionals say it’s important to address mental health issues – even more so for an incarcerated individual. Corina Fisher, a Psychologist at L.E Phillips Libertas Treatment Center in Chippewa Falls, WI, states that we desperately need better services in jail. Recidivism will not be reduced, and criminal behavior will not be stopped by just locking up offenders with mental health issues. These individuals need to be rehabilitated so that when released, they can become productive citizens of society.

Governor Tony Evers of Chippewa County, WI has made a recent budget proposal to expand services to inmates with mental health needs. His new proposal would improve a statewide program called “Oars”, or Opening Avenues to Reentry Success, which is aimed at providing mental health resources to prisoners considered to be at a high risk of reoffending.

The Chippewa County Jail can accommodate up to 200 inmates, with a daily average of 130. In that daily average, Sheriff Jim Kowalczyk says that they deal with both female and male inmates with some type of mental illness. He says that it can be a serious challenge for law enforcement as their resources for handling this group is limited. Unfortunately, that lack of mental health resources often eventually leads these inmates right back behind bars. Kowalczyk said that today he is witnessing more and more issues of mental health than when he first became sheriff more than a decade ago.

Over 300 prisoners participated in the Oars mental health program last year. This new budget proposal includes funding for an additional 225 prisoners and could greatly improve the chances of those with mental illness to get a head start on improving their lives and overcoming recidivism.

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Recidivism
With recidivism rates on the rise, an Arkansas County Jail has taken an intuitive step to help inmates achieve a more successful life after incarceration by providing a peer support group dubbed the PACT (Peers Achieving Collaborative Treatment) Program. This program, launching in 2019, will provide group meetings and one-on-one sessions for inmates addicted to drugs while they are incarcerated in the Lonoke County Jail. Through a grant awarded by the State Drug Director’s office, Lonoke County will hire a Peer Recovery Support Specialist to assist inmates struggling with addiction. The peer consultant will help them prepare for job interviews, acquire food stamps and find housing, while also assisting them with essential life skills and drug rehabilitation. Not being able to acquire employment is one of the leading causes of recidivism, and as such these programs are very likely to improve these inmate’s success as they reintegrate into their community.

Jimmy McGill, who oversees the peer recovery program and works alongside the Arkansas Drug Director’s Office, has a very personal investment in the program. He is four years sober, having gotten clean while incarcerated in this same jail. McGill successfully completed the peer program and gives hope to others who are currently participating in it. John Staley, the Lonoke County Sheriff, is very confident that this program will help reduce recidivism, so long as the inmates have constant support once they are released.

TRACKTech™ not only provides continuous monitoring, but also a convenient and immediate way to deliver therapeutic and rehabilitative support, which is extremely essential for those recovering from drug addiction. Becoming a productive and successful member of society is hard enough for most people released from incarceration, but overcoming a drug addiction is an even more difficult, and potentially life threatening, obstacle. Using the peer recovery program will help these people improve their lives, inside jail and out.
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