More digging into the jail mental health assessment will be done before action is taken. (photo by Zach Dietmeier/WJBC)
By Zach Dietmeier
BLOOMINGTON - McLean County officials are still looking at improvements to treating and handling the mental health of inmates.
Sheriff Mike Emery said Tuesday that sytematic issues keep the McLean County Jail from being fully effective in its treatments and corrections. The McLean County Jail is considered one of the nation's best county jails, according to the latest jail mental health assessment report.
"It does the individual no good when we release them from custody because we give them two weeks worth of medication but yet thet can't get into a center for any follow up therapy or counseling or an increase in medication for six to eight weeks," Emery said.
Emery presented a jail mental health assessment to the county justice committee on Tuesday. The findings called the McLean County Detention Facility one of the nation's most professionally managed and forward-thinking county jails.
While the county continues to look at ways to improve mental health care for inmates - including through potential expansion for a mental health facility - Sheriff Mike Emery said the process must be considered by several groups.
"There has been some minor discussion already between the county government and the Public Building Commission," Emery said. "They are waiting to see where the McLean County Board wants to go to address this issue."
Emery said any serious expansion discussion is likely still a few months in the future. On the immediate side, the county is working on what to do with mentally ill inmates being held in the booking cells.
"These inmates that have been found unfit for trial for long periods of time - weeks and months - create a larger backlog," Emery said. "The state will start taking on its responsibilities on competancy with that individual."
Emery added that in many ways the McLean County Jail received a strong report from the National Institute of Corrections. However, he said it was important not to be content. Even still, procedural changes could begin immediately while talks for structural improvements on holding mentally ill inmates could come later this year.
Zach Dietmeier can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.