District six spearheading ‘jail diversion’ program efforts

MADISON COUNTY, Ala.--It's become more apparent lately that local law enforcement is struggling to deal with mental health issues among inmates. And, some say it's time to think outside the cell.

District six and it's commissioner Bob Harrison are leading the charge for a possible jail diversion program.

"In Madison County it's estimated we have over 250 individuals who require psychotropic drugs and the expertise of mental health professionals," said Commissioner Harrison.

It's costly to incarcerate mentally ill prisoners. Commissioner Harrison said with this program, they think they could cut the amount in half.

"It's about $45 a day to keep a person in the Madison County jail. We think that we can provide better care, better accommodations to these individuals in a community setting," he said.

Harrison said this program is beneficial for both the mentally ill inmates and the county.

"Relieving the responsibilities of our jail, saving human capital, as well as saving or reducing the financial capital that's required," said Harrison.

Harrison said they've seen similar jail diversion programs be successful across the country. He wants to replicate that success here.

"It's more about intervention than incarceration, and rehabilitation," he said.

The County Commission will hear a presentation on the jail diversion program in October and go from there.