AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - To reduce the number of people who return to jail, Potter and Randall counties are in the early stages of a program with Texas Panhandle Centers to address a need to keep those dealing with mental health disorders and substance abuse out of jail.
They found in each county, most who struggle with these issues end up hospitalized or in the jail system.
“The jails identified it and we, Texas Panhandle Centers, identified that there was also a gap in treatment from when an individual was leaving jail to when they’re back in our community and that continuing of care,” said Jail Service Program Manager at Texas Panhandle Centers Maira Argomaniz.
Out of Senate Bill 292, which aims to help communities with this issue, comes a grant-funded program called COPSD.
“That grant is going to pay for one of our counselors that’s going to teach this COPSD program which is the co-occurring psychiatric and substance abuse disorders that they have,” said Potter County Sheriff Brian Thomas. “We have two counselors that are in our jail that will work with him to assess them and help along with this program.”
Randall County has also employed a full-time COPSD Deputy to hold group sessions with inmates who have both mental health and substance abuse issues.
“Once we go through the steps of identifying someone who could potentially benefit from the program, we got through the process of considering, reviewing and the potentially accepting them into the program,” said Randall County Jail Administrator Capt. Paul Horn.
“Whenever they’re in jail, they have that secure and sober environment that kind of aids in their recovery,” said Argomaniz. “When they’re released back into the community they don’t usually have that. So I think the outpatient piece that Texas Panhandle Centers can provide is going to try to address that gap and help them when they’re no longer in that secure and safe environment that often leads to other habits that have led to their incarceration.”
Sheriff Thomas said about 25-percent of Potter County inmates have a mental health disorder and about 75-percent struggle with substance abuse.
He said jail becomes a revolving door for those who struggle with these issues and hopes the program will help to reduce those numbers.
“I’m going to say, it’s a high number, especially with the substance abuse,” said Thomas. “That’s something that we all have to take into account. We’ve got to start somewhere.”