Keeping the One-Sixth of Prisoners Who Are Mentally Ill Out of McHenry County Jail

The minutes of the January 13, 2016, McHenry County Public Health Committee dipped into the mental health problems of those ending up in the County Jail.

McHenry County Jail

McHenry County Jail

The statistics for last year show there were 6,200 individuals detained in our jail last year.

Of those 6,200 individuals, there were 1,000 that had mental health issues.

One sixth of those jailed could be considered for this program, based on the numbers from FY2012 to now.

This report provides a starting date of when they stated keeping track of the mental health issues found in the jail. Mr. Hartman noted he would confirm the numbers.

The data below, for 2015, gives an idea of the issues they need to address.

For leadership of the program, they had a meeting with the participants who have all shown strong support for this. Though Mr. Block was ill that day, he has stated they are already working towards the efforts outlined in the program.

Conversations have been held between the agencies, which have not occurred in other counties.

The Sheriff has provided support for the program. Chief DeVane will co-lead this collective effort.

It is expected that a resolution will be brought forward at the next meeting, which is mostly ceremonial.

It was stated this program is very preliminary at this point.

There are questions regarding what this program is and how does this will compliment what is already in place.

Mr. Hartman stated that the first step is to look at what is already being provided.

There are over 100 [of about 3,000] counties in the country that have adopted this program which they heard about through NACO (National Association of County Officials).

The purpose of the program is to keep mentally ill people out of the jails.

It also provides a tool for the public to see what we are doing to address mental health issues.

This issue could remain as a standing item on the agenda in order to share data between the group.

They will create a piece so the public knows the good work being done by those involved.

The bigger picture is the impact of the State budget.

That is the most effective way to show the impact.

They have seen an increase in service agencies closing which then ends up with the jails being where those with mental health issues end up. McHenry County already has a lot of programs in place to address these issues.

It was suggested they provide a chart that shows what is already being provided and what they expect to accomplish in the future. It was questioned who will absorb the costs of the program?

They were informed that no one wants any additional costs.

This program is very preliminary though there are some things that could be done to reduce costs.

Anna May Miller

Anna May Miller

Ms. Miller stated that if as a County, we are already providing the first steps identified in the program, the costs are the personnel involved, though they are not being paid any more to be included as part of this program.

Instead, the department has absorbed the program as part of their overall duties.

If a program is identified, it could change someone’s budget.

They would then need approval at that time but at this point the approval consists of whether we are buying into the concept, which we already do It was stated, in the past, they did not care about the type of inmates they were putting into the jails.

Now they review who is being arrested to find out if it is someone that should be kept out of the jail.

This step is very preliminary for some though they have been doing this in McHenry County for some time.

It was stated they would like to see how the various departments are expected to implement this program.

Donna Kurtz

Donna Kurtz

Ms. Kurtz stated the resolution should explain how this complements the current programs and whether there are additional costs associated with the program.

This information needs to be shared with the leaders so they can ask the appropriate questions regarding the program in order to determine whether the outcomes are what is expected.

They need to understand this so they can understand the value associated with the program.

It was suggested that Mr. Block and Chief DeVane be included in the meeting in order to answer questions from the committee members.

Mr. Austin noted that he had a meeting with key personnel and they indicated the Sheriff will get the data for the expected savings of keeping those with mental health issues out of the jail.

Larry Smith

Larry Smith

Mr. Smith questioned what the big picture for the program is at the end?

He stated they need to understand what they expect to accomplish by implementing this program.

He questioned how they plan to measure the accomplishments?

Mr. Austin noted there individuals that work in the courthouse that will be able to provide a report to strengthen the measurements on performance.

Mary McCann chairs the Public Health Committee.

Mary McCann chairs the Public Health Committee.

Chairman McCann noted the Stepping Up program gives a name to the entire organizational structure of what they are doing.

There are some expectations for the program so they need to know what costs were averted so the public can see.

Right now there is not a very organized structure.

She stated one issue that we have is we the need to advocate for the State to understand the important part of economic development.

Mental Health has been the hardest hit by the State budget issues.

They need to question how we can work with the Social Service agencies so the State understands, when you withhold services you impact government.

Calling for help locally is not a solution.

It was stated they also need to identify what Mental Health illness is.

That is why the role of the Mental Health Board is so important.

The committee members stated that when Chief DeVane is here, they would like to question him on how they are treating the mentally disabled people that are arrested.

It was stated they will have a real opportunity to address the process.

It was stated there are a lot of angry people because those with mental illnesses are being put into jail.

There seems to be a total lack of communication, which is a huge issue.

It was stated they do not believe law enforcement has a plan to address the mentally disabled.

There seems to be no process to guide them to address the mentally disabled being jailed.

It is hopeful this program will help to address these types of issues.

The committee members were informed the Mental Health Board will provide a resource form that includes a list of agencies that are available to help.

It was stated this form should be included as a part of this initiative.

Chairman McCann noted the Stepping Up initiative was included in the NACO newsletter that included information regarding the program.

She suggested they send out the link to this information.

The committee members were informed that yesterday Mr. Wallis sent out information regarding the People in Need workshop.

This is a great event to meet people that work within the County.


Keeping the One-Sixth of Prisoners Who Are Mentally Ill Out of McHenry County Jail — 5 Comments

  1. The minutes from meetings are severely lacking real information. This is transparency?

    The MHB has watched idly as service agencies have closed throughout the county in recent years, handing out more dollars to inefficient agencies providing less care.

    We do not need to spend more money (on exactly what is not clear) because agencies receiving millions in state and federal funding are not performing duties they are contracted to handle.

  2. Wonder how many were also substance abusers, illegal or legal.

    No easy answers when someone’s head is not working correctly.

  3. Any agency who receives state money has not seen a dime from state dollars.

  4. If you’re mentally ill and break the law u belong in jail not on the streets.

    Why make laws if they can be broken by some?

    Keep dangerous people away from here.

  5. I feel the government will talk about helping but when it comes right down to it the police and the community do not understand it when a person is not aware of their actions because of a mental illness.

    The person can be fine most of the time but when they have a manic episode the police should step in to help… Not harm.

    I have called the Crystal Lake police department on several occasions for help with my son.

    Every police officer in the department is aware that he has a mental illness but when they come to help, it should be help only.

    Restrain him and get him to the hospital.

    But this is not how they handle the situation.

    Four police officers charge him, take him down and break my house door in the meantime.

    They shout “stop resisting” so they can hurt him more.

    You all see the shows.

    He is not resisting because he is a criminal…

    he doesn’t know what is going on.

    Then they can go and charge him with assult on a police officer??

    and take him to jail (where he doesn’t receive his medication).

    This is all fact.

    So even if the police department is aware of a person with a mental illness, they will still trump up additional charges and put him in jail.

    This is very helpful for our community.

    Thank you Crystal Lake Police Department for being so helpful when a person calls 911 for help.

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