Mentally ill inmates at Columbus’ Franklin County jail stay longer, return more frequently and often aren't connected with the treatment they need after they leave, says a report from the Council of State Governments Justice Center quoted by the Columbus Dispatch. Now, the county and other local groups have to figure out what to do about it. The report identifies steps the county and other organizations can take to help.
“Maybe some of them belong in jail. Many do not,” Commissioner Marilyn Brown said. “Once in jail, though, they don't get the appropriate treatment.” The full population of mentally ill jail inmates still is unknown. Jailers don't categorize whether inmates are mentally ill when they are booked, the report says, and they don't have electronic records they can access for the information. The council determined that 7 percent of those admitted to the jail had been treated for a serious mental illness and 25 percent had been treated for alcohol or drug use. National figures suggest the rates could be higher. The problem seeps into the state prison system as well. More than 20 percent of people in Ohio prisons have been diagnosed with a mental illness, costing taxpayers about $41.7 million in 2014 to pay for mental health care and medications for 10,596 mentally-ill inmates.