Jail or Hospital?

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Assigning mental health patients to the county jail has upset Lauderdale County Board of Supervisors president, Craig Hitt.

"The jail is not a place to house them, obviously. We're not set up for it," said Hitt. "It adds a tremendous liability to the county plus the cost of medication and the doctors."

Sheriff Billy Sollie also objects but says there is nothing he can do.

"We had a meeting this past week with the chancery judges and their concern was you've had a hearing and it's been determined this person is possibly harmful to themselves or others. They can't put them on the street," said Sollie. "They put them in a confined area area which is the Lauderdale County Detention Facility, waiting on bed space at one of our state hospitals."

These individuals can't be with the regular prison population so Sollie is forced to keep them adjacent to the booking area.

"We've been housing them for about one month now and it ranges anywhere from down to two and up to six patients," the sheriff said.

Sollie indicated neither the patients nor their families like the arrangement.

"They have concerns with them being in a detention facility. The patients themselves have issues. They go to the court seeking relief and help and they'll walk from the courtroom to a detention facility and it causes them to have confusion and even more difficulties," Sollie said.

Sollie contends the jail is not the proper place for people with such mental problems.

"We're not a mental health facility. We're a detention facility, designed to house persons charged with criminal offenses," said Sollie. "I would love to see these individual out of our facility."

But as of now, apparently there is nowhere else for them to go.


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