Tulsa County Jail Prepares For Impact Of Mental Health Cuts

Friday, October 20th 2017, 6:48 pm
By: News On 6

Even with word of a temporary reprieve from the state's crippling budget cuts, the Tulsa County jail said the lasting impact could huge.

10/19/2017 Related Story: State Could Cut All Outpatient Mental Health & Substance Abuse Programs

It's an issue that the Tulsa County Sheriff's Office (TCSO) fears will become a crisis in jails across the area. Now, they’re bracing for the impact these budget cuts will have on their facilities.

"We don't know exactly what the impact will be but we know that it will be huge," said Casey Roebuck with the Tulsa County Sheriff’s office.

Roebuck said budget cuts could prevent them from getting the help they need because if mental health and substance abuse services are eliminated, officers will be left with nowhere to bring people in need of those services. 

"They may be in a psychosis, but law enforcement doesn't know what to do with them, so they may commit a petty crime, but the solution to that is to have that person arrested," Roebuck said.

"Our jail is essentially the biggest mental health facility in the state of Oklahoma. 35% to 40% of our inmates are on some sort of psychotropic drug," said Roebuck. 

Back in April, the TCSO added two pods inside of their jail to assist inmates in need of mental health care. These pods are already filled to capacity. 

Deputy Justin Green said they're going to have to find new ways to make sure these inmates get the help they need if a permanent funding solution is not found. 

"We have to do our best to try to work within the budgets that we have, and make cuts where we can make cuts in other areas, so we can be efficient in serving the citizens of Tulsa County,” Green said. 

In addition, TCSO will continue to work with their partners to enhance their diversion programs to better meet the needs of inmates with mental health issues.