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MWC Authorities Hope Mental Health Program Can Curb Jail Population

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MWC Police say they have the largest municipal jail in the state and see close to 4,000 men and women every year. Many are here serving time for things like shoplifting or substance abuse. MWC Police say they have the largest municipal jail in the state and see close to 4,000 men and women every year. Many are here serving time for things like shoplifting or substance abuse.
MIDWEST CITY, Oklahoma -

Midwest City Police say they see way too many people walk through their jail, who they say wouldn't be there if they only could get the mental help they need. Now they have a plan to address that issue, by hiring a full-time mental health professional.

It could become a model for the nation. MWC Police say they have the largest municipal jail in the state and see close to 4,000 men and women every year. Many are here serving time for things like shoplifting or substance abuse.

"I was stealing to support my drug habit," said Candace Hymas, who's serving time for petty larceny.

Hymas says she wants to stay out of jail, but this young mother admits her addiction runs deep. And she struggles with it alone. She says a licensed mental health counselor could help her stay on the straight and narrow.

"I mean, I'm not getting any sort of counseling and I need counseling," said Hymas.

Jeremy Jones is another inmate serving time in jail. This is his second time in here and he is also in favor of the program.

"I think it's a pretty good program," said Jones. "They do it in Oklahoma County and it seems to help a lot of people."

Police say the program would give inmates an alternative to serving time behind bars.

"It's only going to work for somebody that recognizes they have a problem and somebody that's willing to step up and listen," said Maj. Robert Cornelison with the Midwest City Police Department.

Police admit the program won't work for everybody. But they say if it ends up helping anybody here stay out of jail in the long run, they'll consider it a success. Jones, for one, is hopeful.

"I believe it could help anybody stay out of here as long as they try to work with the program," said Jones,

There are some strings attached to this program. There are a strict set of guidelines the inmates will have to follow. And if they don't, they'll end up back behind bars facing the same fines and jail time as before.

The program begins in December and has been approved by the city council.

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