County ‘Stepping Up’ on Mental Health to Break Revolving Door of Incarceration

Rome News-Tribune

By Diane Wagner

Jails across the state, including in Floyd County, are struggling to deal with an increasing number of inmates with mental health and addictive disorders.

And it’s a revolving door, according to Bonnie Moore, president of NAMI Rome.

“There’s not housing when they get out, there’s not medication, there’s not follow-up,” Moore told County Commissioners during a caucus discussion last week. “They end up back in the system, and who’s paying for that? We as Floyd County taxpayers.”

Sgt. Carrie Edge of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office attended with Moore to urge the board to join a national initiative called Stepping Up aimed at providing a support system to reduce recidivism.

A study indicates that 23 percent of Floyd County’s inmates have mental health issues, “but we know it’s probably well over 50 percent,” Moore said.

Edge said Jail Administrator Bob Sapp tries to connect families with outside resources that can help an inmate, if they ask for assistance.

“Because we know they’ll be coming back here to re-offend,” she said.

When it works, “it is transforming lives,” she added, but the lack of sustained intervention feeds the connection between mental illness and drug abuse.

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