Sheriff Closes Jail to Violent Mentally Ill

The Summit County, Ohio jail will no longer will accept violent mentally ill and mentally disabled people -- perhaps becoming the first facility in the country with such a policy.


Alexander said he would like to see more mental health facilities like the former Fallsview, a state-run facility in Cuyahoga Falls that provided residential treatment for the mentally ill. It was closed in the late 1990s.

Nationwide, most psychiatric hospitals operated by states were closed as the emphasis turned toward outpatient treatment for long-term care.

The sheriff said he has considered building a separate mental health facility on jail property.

Separate facility rejected

However, that idea was rejected by the National Institute of Corrections consultant. Margaret Severson, a professor at the University of Kansas School of Welfare, called it too costly.

She toured the county jail and reviewed the mental health programming in January at the request of the sheriff. Her visit was funded through the National Institute of Corrections, which is part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

Her 19-page report -- which is complimentary of employees' efforts to improve mental health services -- notes that psychiatrists were once available at the jail 40 hours a week, but that's down to 17 hours because of budget cuts.

The waiting list for the psychiatrist is three to five weeks, Severson wrote.

The sheriff said he wants the Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board to provide more counseling at the jail.

In addition to recommending treatment first for mentally ill people, Severson suggested doing away with a restraint bed; providing additional mental health and suicide prevention training each year; and better identifying people with mental illness when they arrive at the jail.

Alexander said he has implemented or is implementing the recommendations.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.

 

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