Madison County launching pilot behavioral health program for criminal offenders
MADISON COUNTY, Ky. (WKYT) - Madison County is one of 11 Kentucky counties participating in a new behavioral pilot program.
The program will allow some people charged with crimes to receive behavioral health treatment instead of going to jail.
“We’re trying to arrest people and put them in a jail when they really need to be in a rehab,” Madison County Judge-Executive, Reagan Taylor. “they need to get the mental help that they need.”
According to a 2017 report from the U.S Department of Justice, 37% of people in prison have a history of mental illness.
“Our jails have become medical facilities, they’ve become rehabilitation facilities, and they’re not built for that,” Judge-Executive Taylor said. “And so I think this diversion program is a step in the right direction.”
The Behavioral Health Conditional Dismissal Program will allow some people charged with crimes to receive behavioral health treatment, rather than be placed behind bars. It’s starting in 11 Kentucky counties, including Madison County.
The program is not open to everyone, it excludes several offenses including sex crimes and acts of domestic violence and abuse.
In order to participate in the program, an individual must be a Kentucky resident who is at least 18 years old, have a behavioral health disorder, be assessed as a low-risk offender and not have any previous conviction for a class A, B or C, felony, or a class d felony or misdemeanor that is not a qualifying offense.
“What’s the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting different results. Well for 20 years, that’s what we’ve been doing with the drug epidemic, putting people in jail. It’s not working. We’ve gotta try something new.”
Taylor says he visited a female rehabilitation center in eastern Kentucky, while he was there he sat in on a group session.
“And I asked a question, of what can we do as a society and a community and this girl stood up and she said, ‘ya know society and communities look at us like we’re bad people that need to be good when in reality, we’re sick people that need to be well.”
Judge-Executive Taylor says he looks at the program as a step toward helping people get well and become productive citizens of society.
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