TCSO: New Pods Just First Step To Treating Inmates With Mental Illness
TULSA COUNTY, Oklahoma - The Tulsa County Jail is moving inmates into its brand new mental health pods. The sheriff said the idea for the pods came about a couple years ago, but the need has been around for much longer.
Sheriff Vic Regalado said the mental health pods at the jail put them ahead of most in the country, but, he said they still have a long way to go.
Regalado said, on average, around 40 percent of inmates suffer from a mental illness; they end up in jail simply because there's nowhere else for them.
"What we saw was just a rotation of these people that we knew needed help," he said.
That's how the idea of mental health pods was born.
Regalado said, "What this allows us to do is to segregate them, to provide them with mental health services within the jail."
The sheriff's office spent more than just money on the pods, they also spent time teaching Crisis Intervention Training to the most recent class of detention officers that graduated.
Regalado said every incoming officer will receive the credentials from now on.
"We had to come up with a curriculum, we had to get it certified, so it was a process that took a lot of time and effort," he said.
Regalado said he's proud of how far they've come, but that there are even more goals for the program. He said they eventually want a mental health facility that would serve as a type of halfway house.
"Ultimately, we want them to be able to go back into society so they're not being arrested again," he said.
The sheriff said they plan on launching helpline Tuesday, where family and friends of inmates can call in and tell them about any medications and treatments they might need. That number is 1-800-246-0881.