Ventura County supervisors have approved $2.5 million to rent extra nurses, therapists and different well being care workers at county jails within the face of the rising numbers of inmates with psychological sickness and an elevated variety of inmate deaths.
The Board of Supervisors accepted the measures late final month on the request of Sheriff Invoice Ayub.
In a letter to the board, Ayub mentioned the extra workers will guarantee well timed care and higher administration of treatment therapies and continued care after inmates are launched from custody.
The sheriff mentioned he proposed the improve following an inner overview that took into consideration working circumstances at different jails, notably these beneath federal oversight or courtroomconsent decrees.
One high-profile case emerged in late August on the San Luis Obispo County Jail. The U.S. Division of Justice mentioned it discovered proof the jail had failed to supply constitutionally ample psychological well being and medical care of inmates. Ayub, although, mentioned he had determined to hunt the enhancements domestically earlier than the Justice Division introduced its findings.
The improve of the primary jail in Ventura and the Todd Street Jail outdoors Santa Paula will improve by almost 19% the workers working for Wellpath, a for-profit firm beneath contract to supply in-jail medical care, together with psychological well being companies.
That places the whole as much as a bit of over 70 from roughly 60.
In what could possibly be a much more sweeping change, county officers are taking a look at turning over the psychological well being care of inmates from Wellpath to the county’s personal Behavioral Well being Division when a brand new contract begins July 1.
Behavioral Well being Director Sevet Johnson mentioned the division, which supplies outpatient companies in the group, has by no means taken on the duty of caring for jail inmates. The company is analyzing the necessities set out within the county’s request for proposals to see if it is possible, she mentioned.
On the identical board assembly on Sept. 21, the supervisors accepted a five-year contract with the nonprofit Nationwide Fee on Correctional Well being Care to observe and audit well being care companies on the jails. Additionally they approved the addition of an administrator within the Sheriff’s Workplace to coordinate the Stepping Up Initiative, a nationwide program aimed toward lowering the variety of individuals with psychological diseases in jails.
The county’s ramp-up of inmate well being care comes at a time when giant numbers of individuals with psychological sickness are confined in jail within the county and statewide.
The inmate inhabitants on the county’s two jails has surged almost four-fold in eight years, from a day by day common of 42 in 2011 to 157 in 2019. Detention Division Sheriff’s Cmdr. Mike Hartmann acknowledges extra of them could also be recognized as mentally ailing than up to now however mentioned the state’s realignment coverage additionally accounts for the rise.
The coverage that took impact in 2011 resulted in lots of extra individuals going to county jails quite than state prisons. They continue to be in jail typically for years, many with persistent medical and psychiatric circumstances.
Psychiatrists have recognized about 150 of the roughly 1,200 to 1,300 inmates on the two native jails as severely mentally ailing, officers mentioned. Some 44% are taking medicine prescribed for psychiatric issues, Ayub mentioned.
Ventura County sheriff’s officers determined the jails wanted extra medical and psychological well being workers in half due to a higher-than-normal variety of inmate deaths in 2020, Ayub mentioned.
Six individuals died within the jails that 12 months. Three of them have been dominated suicides, in line with a county health worker’s report. The variety of yearly deaths has risen progressively since 2017 when there have been three reported deaths.
A part of the improve is aimed towardconserving mentally ailing individuals out of jail within the first place and curbing recidivism by efficiently reconnecting them with the group after their launch.
The county is trying to do this partially via the Stepping Up program, which has been adopted by greater than 500 counties within the U.S. The technique requires figuring out the variety of individuals with psychological sickness in jails, their wants and remedy choices. County officers use that data to develop a plan to fulfill these wants and observe outcomes.
Hartmann mentioned the implementation of Stepping Up has been delayed by the pandemic, however that officers are placing the items in place. Johnson sees promise for curbing recidivism via collaboration amongst professionals in psychological well being, regulation enforcement, the courts and jails.
The outcomes of the trouble ought to present which people should be focused and easy methods to ship remedy and assets to them, she mentioned.
Calaveras County, an early Stepping Up participant, discovered that its jail inmates wanted a excessive stage of particular person remedy, mentioned Samuel Leach, the county’s chief probation officer and a frontrunner of the trouble.
“It helped us prioritize that,” Leach mentioned. “We may return to a group of leaders and attempt to discover methods to construct that programming.”
Kathleen Wilson covers the Ventura County authorities, together with the county well being system, politics and social companies. Attain her at email@example.com or 805-437-0271.