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Lincoln County Jail staff: “Training to identify mental health problems among jail inmates makes a lot of sense.

Lincoln County Commissioners Archive photo

Lincoln County Commissioners
Archive photo

A couple of Lincoln County Jail personnel reported to the County Commission this week that recent training they received, on a pilot project from the state, was among the most insightful and effective pieces of training they’ve ever experienced when it comes to properly evaluating those who are arrested – especially those with problems that really don’t belong in a jail, burning up county resources.

The deputies, one of which was a mental health professional, said fully a third of jail populations suffer mental illness and that the training they received helped them to more quickly and accurately identify problems and so could more properly direct arrestees to effective treatment and rehabilitation which they would never get in the jail. Otherwise, if you just keep locking them up, they’ll just keep re-appearing at the jailhouse intake window, running up the bill for taxpayers.

Commissioner Bill Hall lamented that the very valuable training the two jail employees received was a one-shot wonder from the state – not a sustainable approach to keep such people out of jail and into treatment. Commissioner Hall said he learned that such sustained training opportunities for jail employees may not make it through the current session of the legislature. Hall said if that’s the case, he wants the county to find the money within its own budget to keep the training going. He said it’s better for the arrestee, it’s better for keeping jail populations down, and it ultimately saves the taxpayers a lot of money.

Hall and the commission said such a budget item can be more fully explored and funds developed for next year’s budget.

In other commission business North Lincoln Sanitation’s Tina French reported that they’re not seeking any rate hike in the coming year from customers living in the unincorporated parts of northern Lincoln County. French said her company is still within a zone of reasonable profits. French said recycling remains strong although in some recycling categories the income is down considerably which may affect future rate settings.

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