Mental Health Pilot Program Aims to Improve Criminal Justice System in Anderson County

Fox Carolina

Anderson County has launched a pilot program to address the mental health of detainees in the criminal justice system. It includes a mental health screening and so far, about 30 percent of individuals booked into the county’s detention center have self-reported mental health issues.

The National Stepping Up Initiative has been in place in Anderson County since mid-January as one part of the county’s effort to address mental health issues and create a safer environment for detention officers. FOX Carolina investigated the steps being taken and what kind of progress has been made.

Between January 14 and February 16, county officials report 606 individuals were booked into the Anderson County Detention Center, 183 self-reported some kind of mental illness, 48 of those were clinically assessed by a mental health liaison and 20 of those were deemed eligible to receive services within the detention facility. Officials say some bond out before receiving clinical assessment but at very least, a detainee will be released with information pointing them to helpful resources.

“We’re already burdened with overcrowding issues and when you stack mental health issues on top of that, it becomes a big officer safety issue,” says Captain Bill Vaughn, Director of the Anderson County Detention Center. He says the mental health screenings allow his officers to recognize an individual who may need further assistance and get that person in front of a mental health liaison who can get them treatment inside the facility.

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