Caring for Inmates with Mental Illnesses

According to the National Alliance of Mental Illness, Alabama has about 200,000 adults with a serious mental illness, nearly 5,000 of those live in the Wiregrass.
What happens if one of those people ends up behind bars?

The Houston county jail books dozens of criminals a day.
Some of those inmates suffer from a mental illness.
But what does it take to ensure they're properly cared for?

The Houston county jail houses nearly four hundred inmates a day.
Of those behind bars, sixty to sixty five percent are on some form of medication for mental illness.

"Psychophrenia, paranoia, depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder, substance abuse, pretty much you see everything coming through this facility," said Houston County Jail Clinic Director Jason Smoke.

It's a long list that causes behavior problems at the jail.

"Typically we see a lot of things, they tear up a lot of things as far as the prison uniforms, their blankets, their mats, they tend to break sprinkler heads, thy flush things down the commode," said Houston County Jail Clinic Director Jason Smoke.

Houston county jail commander Keith Reed says it's a daily challenge they're trying to control.

"We're not a mental health facility and people with mental health provide a challenge to us everyday," said Houston County Jail Commander Keith Reed.

If someone is arrested they are here in this 10 x 15 cell until they can be mentally evaluated.

"Here at the county jail, we do have a contract with a local medical provider, who does provide, psychiatric evaluations, they come in on a regular basis, and interview the inmates, look at medication, adjust prescriptions," said Houston County Jail Commander Keith Reed.

The jail also has its own clinic on site, to keep up with the medication that needs to be given to inmates.

"We do a lot of tracking down medical records, trying to get a hold of doctors, we try to take their signs and symptoms, and get them on an anti-psychotic medication so that we can calm them down a little bit," said Houston County Jail Clinic Director Jason Smoke.

A calm that will keep the inmates and staff safe.

Jail commander Keith Reed says if you have a family member that is on medication in the Houston county jail, he recommends you go to the jail with medical records for that inmate.
That helps physicians better know what your loved one needs behind bars.


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