Madison County Commission hoping to improve mental health for inmates

MADISON COUNTY, Ala. -  The Madison County Commission is working to improve mental health in our area. Mental health is a huge and growing issue across the country and it's hitting home in Madison County.

"This mental health issue is something that this entire county is going to have to work on because it's real. It doesn't discriminate. It's in many families black, white, Latino, whatever it is, mental health is real," said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong.

Specifically, mental health is affecting inmates in the Madison County jail.

"82 percent of the people that are currently incarcerated in the Madison County Metro Jail are either addicted or mentally ill. Those are things that we've got to address," Strong said.

Out of the Madison County Commission's $58 million budget, $30 million goes to the Madison County Sheriff's Office and out of that $17 million goes to the jail.

Part of that funding is already going towards mental health, but it's becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle.

"The Lurleen B. Wallace center was closed by the state of Alabama and in many cases, those patients seeking mental health now end up in a metro jail rather than being treated for this," Strong said.

The county commission is looking to approve an additional agreement regarding mental health staffing at the jail.

Even though the commission provides the funding, in the end, it's up to the sheriff to decide what to do with it and properly execute it.

The commission pushed the discussion and vote on the agreement regarding mental health staffing at the jail to their next meeting on November 28.