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An Overcrowded Jail Leaves the Mentally Ill Underserved

The chronically overcrowded Jackson County Jail means people with mental health issues are not getting help when they need it most. Right now, the jail is forced to release people who could be helped if they could be detained longer.

Posted: Dec. 7, 2018 6:25 PM
Updated: Dec. 10, 2018 11:04 AM

MEDFORD, Ore. -- The chronically overcrowded Jackson County Jail means people with mental health issues are not getting help when they need it most. Right now, the jail is forced to release people who could be helped if they could be detained longer.

"I think for us, our jail is just so small that it's hard for us to have opportunities to try try to catch them when they're ready for some services," explains Stacey Brubaker, division manager with Jackson County Mental Health.

It's a sentiment echoed by Lieutenant Josh Aldrich with the Jackson County Sheriff's Office.

"Because we can't keep people in jail for very long, things like alcohol and drug addiction treatment, mental health counseling, all those things that in an ideal correction setting, you'd have people in jail long enough to at least get them to be introduced to the providers that can help them long term," says Aldrich.

People are let out to make room for individuals with more serious offenses.

"When you send someone out who's dealing with mental illness or addiction and they get cut loose at 2:00 in the morning cause there's no bed available in the jail or they need it for a more significant offender, then what?" asks Brubaker.

Right now, there's no answer to that question. A new jail would change everything.

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