Mental Health Unit
On April 10, 2018, The Roanoke City Jail began utilizing a Mental Health Unit. This specialized unit was a needed as a result of local challenges that all correctional facilities, not just ours, are facing. Nationwide, the Department of Justice found in 2017 that 44% of jail inmates have a history of a mental health disorder. In Roanoke City Jail along, there are 69% of the inmates on some form of psychotropic medications, with 54% of inmates on other types of prescription medication.
A committee, that represented a cross-section from each department, was formed to review the Mental Health Program. This committee evaluated operations and impact to staff while formulating a plan to update our current operation. After identifying stakeholders and potential partners, the committee recommended that inmates’ with mental health needs have a dedicated housing unit. This specific unit would offer two options; one therapeutic unit with specialized programming and one direct supervision unit for inmates in crisis with the option to triage prospective inmate for entry into the therapeutic unit.
• To enhance the department’s ability to identify persons that may be at risk of suicide and/or mental illnesses which could be harmful to themselves or others;
• Provide a safe environment;
• Facilitate a path for recovery;
• Assist inmates in changing ineffective thought patterns and behavior so they can become better community members in a correctional environment and in the community at large upon release;
• To maximize specialized resources, focusing on offender intake and mental health housing;
• To increase consistency with intake operations and supervision.
We are also dedicated to working with our partners to help these inmates transition back into society. Discharge planning is essential to ensure these individuals are able to bridge medications, find suitable housing and even a job.