Johnson County Sheriff: Mental health is number one problem

JOHNSON COUNTY, Ind. -- Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox calls mental health his number one problem. 

The inmate population at the Johnson County Jail stands at 289 prisoners. The sheriff says as many as half, if not 60 percent of them, meet the clinical definition of mentally ill. 

The Johnson County Jail has a small infirmary. It provides psychological and psychiatric services to inmates on a limited basis, just twelve hours per week. Sheriff Cox says the need for mental health services is so acute that he wants to increase that time to 40 hours per week.

"It's happened on multiple occasions where we have inmates who've created artwork with their own feces. So, when you see that happening, you know you have problems that need to be addressed," Cox said. 

Mental illness creates other problems, for the inmate, for other inmates and for jail staff. Some individuals require one-on-one supervision around the clock.

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The demand for mental health services far outstrips the ability of health care providers to deliver them. For people with issues and addictions, cures don't come easily.

People in jail suffer a wide range of mental issues, that if left untreated or undiagnosed create even larger problems.

Whether treated or not, most people with mental health issues get released from jail at some point in time.

Sheriff Cox plans to ask the Johnson County Council for the necessary funds to expand mental health services Monday night. 


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