ANDERSON Co., SC (WSPA) – Anderson County Sheriff’s Office is joining the list of agencies working to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jail by providing more resources.
The Anderson County Detention Center was built in 1956 and has seen it’s better days.
“In 2018, we got our average daily population which was 411,” said Capt. William Vaughn.
That’s one inmate away from being at 200 percent capacity in the jail. Now Sheriff’s Office leaders are working to cut down the numbers by offering a new resource.
“Our folks that are self reporting mental health issues tend to stay longer in our facility costing us two to three times more for those that need some type of treatment,” Vaughn said.
As of Monday this new program rolled out and a self-reporting mental health screening process is now in place. The goal is for the officers to better identify, intervene and treat any inmates with a mental illness in the detention center.
“If they can start treatment in our facility they could reduce possible victims when they get out and slow down the residualism rate,” Vaughn said.
The idea comes from the National Institute of Corrections town hall held over a year ago to discuss ways to fix the overcrowding issue in the jail. Vaughn tells 7News this is a good first step.
“I’m passionate about the people. The people not just working in the facility, but those already detained that need help,” Vaughn said.
Vaughn said this process will ultimately improve employee safety too.
“I see them everyday having to deal with the same issues and we are not trained to deal with mental health the way mental health counselors would be,” Vaughn said.
The detention center already turned one of the attorney rooms at the front into a makeshift space in order to conduct these screenings privately.
This project is a partnership between a number of agencies specifically Anderson, Oconee, Pickens Mental Health Center who provides the liason to screen the inmates and determine the best course of actions.