New Jail Mental Health


As public health and law enforcement agencies continue to struggle to deal with the rising tide of mental health issues plaguing our society, they are also looking at ways to address each case as best as they possibly can.

Ground was broken last year on a new Rice County Safety Center. While the new building will not have specific mental health or detox facilities, they are working to incorporate features within the design that will help de-escalate some situations. “We’ll not have a true mental health facility – there are four cells off of our intake that are softer so the colors are different, the flooring’s different, there’s natural light so that way it addresses some mental health needs but it’s not a fulltime fix” says Rice County Sheriff Thomas.

Officials in Rice County are hopeful that a private company may fill the void in mental healthcare that has been left to mainly law enforcement agencies. “I think they’re starting to understand that over the years everything has kind of got pushed on law enforcement, right? So when the State shut down their facilities, where does everybody go? They put them in jail so then we take them up to the hospital, the hospital says they shouldn’t be here, the best place for them is in jail which, that’s their opinion, not mine because they shouldn’t be in a jail if they have alot of mental health issues.”

Corporate officials have contacted and are working with the County on possibly building a facility that may house Mental Health and Detox services, though nothing is definite yet and, if built, would still be at least three years away from taking clients. As has been the case for healthcare services for a number of years now, staffing the facility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, would be the biggest challenge.


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