Program could help mentally ill inmates

Posted at 7:45 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 19:45:04-04

Martin County Sheriff William Snyder told County Commissioners Tuesday that he needs their help to fix a serious, and expensive problem.

The sheriff says about 20 percent of his jail population suffers from a mental health illness and those inmates need specialized help.

According to the Sheriff, the jail is spending nearly 30 percent of its budget on less than 20 percent of the inmates.  

Snyder presented a new plan to the County Commission. He wants to create a Mental Health Diversion Program for inmates. His plan involves converting a juvenile facility next to the jail into an alternative for inmates with mental issues who would otherwise we taken to jail.

“I think its a safe predicate to say this is a true current and profound problem that is screaming for some kind of intervention,” said Snyder.

Snyder says right now it is costing him more than 4.5 million dollars a year on a 16 million dollar budget to care for these inmates. He says it’s costly because of their specific needs. He says he could get state and federal funding help to create a separate facility for these inmates.
It would be up to the commissioners to decide whether to renew the facilities lease with the DJJ.