ATHENS, Ala. – Limestone County Commission approved a resolution this morning to reduce the number of people with mental illness in the Limestone County Jail.
The Stepping Up Initiative is a national program, which was adapted by Morgan County last year. The program is launching in January and will provide mental health services for newly-released inmates from Limestone County Jail.
Lieutenant Tammy Waddell, from the Limestone County Sheriff’s Office, said the lack of state health facilities has resulted in an increased jail population.
“The county jail for whatever reason has become a dumping ground for the mentally ill, we’ve noticed that our population has increased tremendously because of the closing of a lot of the state facilities,” said Waddell.
The Limestone County Sherriff’s Office also realized that to keep up with the needs of their inmates they need to step up their services.
“We’ve been able to show that there is a great need for people to have some type of treatment or counseling so that once they get out of these facilities, they don’t reciprocate and come right back because of lack of treatment or lack of counseling,” said Waddell.
The Limestone County Sheriff’s Office and the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama will work to identify current inmates who have a mental illness to best connect them with mental health services when they leave the jail.
“Stepping Up is designed to provide help for people that need services and are unable to access them,” said Bill Giguere, Development Officer at the Mental Health Center of North Central Alabama. “It closes the gap between needing services and being able to access them.”
Giguere said the program along with $50,000, will fund a full-time case manager that will work closely with the medical unit in the Limestone County Jail.
“So hopefully when they get out of jail we have a plan in place, we have a clinic just right down the road from the jail actually, hopefully, we can have a plan so they can get services almost immediately,” Giguere said.
The Stepping Up Initiative will begin in the Limestone County Jail in January of next year.