Spartanburg Mental Health Court Could Improve Safety, Cut Costs - WSPA.com

Spartanburg Mental Health Court Could Improve Safety, Cut Costs

Posted: Updated:
A National Institute of Corrections assessment of the Spartanburg County Jail, obtained by 7 On Your Side, shows there are concerns among jail and county leaders about lack of services for inmates with mental health issues. A National Institute of Corrections assessment of the Spartanburg County Jail, obtained by 7 On Your Side, shows there are concerns among jail and county leaders about lack of services for inmates with mental health issues.

A National Institute of Corrections assessment of the Spartanburg County Jail, obtained by 7 On Your Side, shows there are concerns among jail and county leaders about lack of services for inmates with mental health issues.

Consultants also noted in the report completed this week that there is a lack of designated housing for mental health and suicide.

The sheriff and county leaders say something needs to happen in order to keep criminals from coming right back to jail after they get out. The solution could be a mental health court.

Debbie West is the president of the local chapter for the National Alliance on Mental Illness. She's dealt with depression herself.

"Mental illness is treatable and it's critical that you offer the treatment," West said.

West blames budget cuts for reduced access to mental health care for the incarcerated and she's disappointed that diseases of the mind aren't taken as seriously as others.

"They get their medicines every day for diabetes so why can't they have the medicines that keeps their brain well," West said.

About one in every eight inmates at the county jail take some sort of medication for mental conditions, according to jail director Major Neal Urch. It's unclear how many more inmates have undiagnosed conditions.

"South Carolina has totally failed us on the mental health issue," Wright said.

Sheriff Chuck Wright said it comes down to money and safety and his staff isn't equipped for mental health treatment.

"Some of these people become very violent, they don't know. They don't mean to but they do."

He said if the money isn't spent for treatment after the first arrest it's like a revolving door.

That can lead to officers having to round up repeat offenders and money spent on more people locked up.

"This is a medical issue and we need to get medical personnel in the right positions to help. they're willing to help if we can get them to them," Wright said.

Spartanburg County Council voiced support for a mental health court Monday. County staff hopes to secure a grant from the federal government.

The $250,000 award would get the court started and leaders want to make room in future budgets to keep it going.

The program would be similar to Greenville County's mental health court.

The Spartanburg jail director stressed that the program would only allow non-violent offenders to go through court-monitored treatment instead of being locked up in jail.

  • Top StoriesTop StoriesMore>>

  • Truck Hit Green Link Bus, Crashes Into Building, Flees Scene

    Truck Hit Green Link Bus, Crashes Into Building, Flees Scene

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:31 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:31:51 GMT
    Troopers say debris was apparently on the hood of the truck when the suspect fled and most of it fell off into the roadway.Troopers say debris was apparently on the hood of the truck when the suspect fled and most of it fell off into the roadway.
    The Highway Patrol is investigating an accident in Powdersville after a truck hit a Green Link bus on Highway 153, wrecked into a building, and then the truck driver fled the scene.
    The Highway Patrol is investigating an accident in Powdersville after a truck hit a Green Link bus on Highway 153, wrecked into a building, and then the truck driver fled the scene.
  • The Law On Leaving Kids Home Alone

    The Law On Leaving Kids Home Alone

    Thursday, July 31 2014 1:19 PM EDT2014-07-31 17:19:56 GMT

    Recent cases of mothers getting arrested for leaving their children alone while they try to work has stirred debate on affordable child care and when you can legally leave your child home alone.

    Recent cases of mothers getting arrested for leaving their children alone while they try to work has stirred debate on affordable child care and when you can legally leave your child home alone.

  • Flooding Possible Across Upstate, WNC Thursday

    Flooding Possible Across Upstate, WNC Thursday

    Thursday, July 31 2014 12:37 PM EDT2014-07-31 16:37:35 GMT
    The 24/7 Weather Team says isolated showers will continue Thursday with highs in the upper 70s in the Upstate and mid-70s for the mountains.
    The 24/7 Weather Team says isolated showers will continue Thursday with highs in the upper 70s in the Upstate and mid-70s for the mountains.
Powered by WorldNow

250 International Dr.
Spartanburg, S.C. 29303

Telephone: 864.576.7777
Fax: 864.587.5430
Email: webmaster@wspa.com

Can't find something?
Powered by WorldNow
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Media General Communications Holdings, LLC. A Media General Company.