DeKalb County Commission is “Stepping Up” to help fight mental illness in jails

DEKALB COUNTY, Ala. - According to the Commissioner of Mental Health of Alabama, the amount of inmates in the state with mental illnesses is in on the rise.

The state created a task force to help develop a program for them through an initiative called "Stepping Up." "We're going to develop the plan, whatever it takes. What we're trying to do is put it in motion over the state, in every county," says Commission President Ricky Harcrow.

Although the task force is in its early stages, Harcrow and seven other representatives are trying to develop a plan to help these inmates get their life and health on track, as well as avoid the jail system. "When we have to incarcerate these people with mental illnesses, they require a lot more treatment than others and their return ratio is astronomical."

This can be very costly on smaller counties who continuously book inmates that need the extra assistance. "We want to reduce the number of people that are booked into our facilities. Not only that, but we want to reduce the time that they are there."

Reducing these costs can free up some of the tax money that goes to jails but also help those who have an issue with continually being booked into the system. "These kinds of issues broaden out into so many areas: family issues, children issues, drug issues, and alcohol issues," explained Harcrow.

Whatever the problem may be, this new task force is hoping to address all types of issues across the board.