New money to focus on mental health at new Lucas County jail

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) – As the new Lucas County jail starts to take shape, a focus on mental health will be a major part of it. With the hope to address those issues for people and hopefully keep them out of jail again.

One of the many reasons a new Lucas County jail is sought is because of how the current one handles people with mental illness. It wasn’t really designed to and it shows

Many think of a jail as a place where bad guys are locked up but it’s become so much more.

“We are basically running a de facto mental health hospital. It’s not the way it’s designed to be and it really needs to change,” said Sheriff Mike Navarre.

That’s why Sheriff Navarre and other county leaders are gladly accepting $2 million from the Department of Justice and Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur.

It’s money to be used in the architectural and engineering phase to create an open housing unit with natural light and allowing inmates with mental health issues with people and corrections officers 24 hours, 7 days a week.

“That will create an environment that is more conducive to them feeling safe and waiting to get the treatment that they need,” said Sheriff Navarre.

Lucas County Commissioner Gary Byers continues to say the preferred site for the Lucas County jail is the current Toledo-Lucas County Health Department and almost everything is in place to make that happen.

“The city owns that but we have been partnering with the city on many issues and they’ve been very cooperative and helpful and I see that continuing,” said Byers.

So will the focus on helping people with mental health get the services, medicine and counseling they need to hopefully get them back on more stable footing.

“Our chances of successfully treating these individuals before they return to society will go up immensely,” said Sheriff Navarre.

To give you an idea of how badly those mental health services are needed, the sheriff says about half of the inmates have sought some mental health treatment and that and about 28% have actually been diagnosed with a mental illness.

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