Madison County Jail officers address mental health challenges fo - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

Madison County Jail officers address mental health challenges for inmates

(Source: WAFF) (Source: WAFF)
HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) -

Jail is supposed to be for criminals, but it's often a place where the mentally ill wind up. Madison County deputies are working to change that.

Deputies attended a special class to address these issues on Wednesday.

Chief Deputy David Jernigan with Madison County Sheriff's Office said at this point in time the largest mental health facility in north Alabama is the Madison County Jail. That sets up a host of problems for inmates with mental problems. It’s also problematic for the jail itself because it isn't equipped to handle that.

Jails are full of people in crisis, and Jernigan says nearly a third of the people in the jail's daily population have a mental health issue. Out of that third, about 30 people need constant medical monitoring, and the taxpayers pay for it.

Once these people get out of jail, they still haven't received proper help, which makes this a cyclical problem. something this class will hopefully change.

“Our main goal is to provide our deputies with something in their toolkit. allow them not to diagnose them, not to be clinicians, but maybe to categorize, and understand what the issue is,"Jernigan said.

He said corrections officers should be able to ask the right questions, de-escalate situations, find out the underlying problems and see what resources are available locally.

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