WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Jail Diversion Committee Proceeding

Jun 19, 2013

An effort to keep individuals with mental health issues out of the Lee County Jail is proceeding.

Lee County Sheriff Jim Sholl

The county's jail diversion committee has been meeting regularly for about one year.

It has included representatives of the Lee County Sheriff's office, the Lee County CPC Office, local hospitals and mental health care providers.

Sheriff Jim Sholl says it has reached the point in the process where it is time to stop talking about the issue and start taking action to address it.

He says the community has identified several new policies or practices that can be implemented in the next few weeks at no additional cost.

Sholl says one is for law enforcement and health care providers to share information when they make contact with an individual with a mental health issue.

"There might be a service provider out there who might recognize a name," says Sholl, "and realize, 'maybe I need to pay more attention to that one consumer' because law enforcement is letting me know that they have encounted them out on the street."

Sholl says there are also gaps in service that the committee would love to fill, if/when money comes available.

He says the list includes the need for an on-call system for mental health care providers, more beds in mental health care facilities and a crisis center that could replace the jail when certain individuals are arrested.

Sholl says it's unclear where the money could come from for the programs as state and federal law enforcement grants are shrinking.