Jun 06, 2023

Too many Missouri jails house too many mentally ill inmates

Posted Jun 06, 2023 3:42 PM


St. Joseph Post

A committee formed by the Missouri Association of Counties is working to find solutions to help get mentally ill people treatment, rather than incarceration.

Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett, a member of that committee, says on any given day Missouri jails could be holding 190 to 200 mentally ill inmates as they wait for beds in mental health facilities.

"Often times those individuals sit between 8 to 12 months and the issue with that is the staffing in jails are not designed, or do they have the resources, to deal with individuals in mental health crisis," Puett tells host of the KFEQ Hotline Barry Birr.

Puett says the committee is working hard to make sure they get people and resources where they need to be to help the mentally ill.

"Because it is not just a jail issue, it is a community issue and a jail issue combined, and we want to make sure that we're trying to get these folks where they need to be," Puett says.

Puett says most jails that are housing such patients aren't suited for them, mainly because the staff isn't qualified to deal with these mental health issues.

"A lot of staff in jails, and even prisons, are not trained with psychiatric training obviously that's not their forte or their business," Puett explains.

Puett says trying to deal with people in crisis and not having the proper training is a big reason why it's important to get these inmates to a proper mental health facility.

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