It’s Official: First Jail Accredited As A Mental Health Facility. Need Help? Get Arrested! Outrageous!
by Pete Earley
Unfortunately, the caption on this photograph is incorrect. Georgia jail accredited as a treatment facility.
(3-4-19) We have hit the tipping point.
The Chatham County Detention Center in Savannah, Georgia has become the first jail in the United States to be accredited for mental health services by the National Commission on Correctional Health Care.
I’m grateful that Sheriff John Wilcher has made mental health a priority since he was elected. The Detention Center now has a full-time psychiatrist, more counselors, upgraded mental health first aid training, and an improved screening process for those coming into the jail.
But I am also horrified with this announcement.
Providing mental health services in a jail will certainly be more humane, but it is another sign of our failure to help people by providing treatment services in state hospitals and in community settings. By drastically reducing treatment beds, refusing to adequately fund community mental health services, and stubbornly refusing to intervene until someone becomes dangerous, we have reached a point where we are officially linking treatment to incarceration.