Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Strain on jails and prisons continues

It’s likely not a coincidence that the jails and prisons are experiencing strain and overcrowding as inpatient psychiatric beds close. According to the Chronicle Telegram in Ohio:

Ohio had a 16 percent decrease in the number of private hospital psychiatric beds from 1997 to 2002, as well as a 21 percent decrease in state hospital beds over the same period. Thirteen private psychiatric units were also closed during those years.

These are not statistics the forensic community is not excited about in Ohio.

Jail administrator Ken Kochevar:

“If we had intensive treatment services in the community, then we wouldn’t be forced to operate a mental hospital here. We’re a jail. … Don’t ask us to do all these specialized services.”

Debbie Nixon- Hughes, chief of mental health services for Ohio prisons:

“Unfortunately, we’re probably one of the larger mental health providers in the state.” And that isn’t exactly what our mission was intended to be.”

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