Lubbock County Detention Center Fighting Mental Health Problem in the System

KAMC News

By Victoria Larned

The number of people in jail with a mental health disorder is a problem across Texas, according to Lubbock County Detention Center.

It has become one of the top facilities in the state to address this problem, but they still need more support and funding to fix it.

Too often, police have to arrest someone on a disturbance or annoyance call and bring them to the jail because that is the only adequate option, according to Cpt. Johnny Jaquess, the watch commander for Lubbock County Detention Center.

“We are arresting people just because they are mentally ill. It’s like arresting someone for having a broken leg, because we don’t have a hospital for them to get it fixed,” said Jaquess.

However, once they are put in the police car, the problem is far from over, he said.

The problem is not due to police, he added. It’s due to a lack of better alternatives to help people in crisis. As a result, they are taken to Lubbock County Detention Center, the only place where they cannot be turned away.

Sarah Dingus, the director of forensic mental health for Starcare and contracted to the LCDC, said this is a problem for the entire community. She said eventually, these people will be back with the rest of society.

“This is a detention center, not a prison. They will very likely be our neighbors once again. Their kids will be going to school with our kids, so why wouldn’t we want to better them, integrate them into society and produce more productive members?” said Dingus.

Lubbock County Detention Center has 1,250 inmates on average every day, according to Jaquess.

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