POTTER COUNTY, TX (KFDA) - Potter County is making sure inmates who suffer from a mental illness receive the appropriate help.
Both the 47th District Attorney's Office and Potter County Judge Nancy Tanner offer those who struggle with mental illness a better avenue than sitting in a jail.
The biggest difference in Tanner's docket and the DA's program is Tanner only works with those who have been charged with a misdemeanor, and the DA works with a larger number of inmates who have felonies.
Overall, the programs have the same goal: help inmates who face mental health problems.
Potter County officials want to reduce the number of mental health inmates and give them programs to help with their illness.
"It's important to take these steps, and I am doing it to try and get the jail population down in addition to helping these people out," Judge Nancy Tanner said. "If we can all combine our efforts together, we can help these people to get out of jail and to stay on the positive track."
Tanner's Mental Health Docket is a six month program which screens out inmates who have mental health issues and treats them rather than sending them to jail. It also helps the county save more money.
So far there have been 68 inmates who have gone through the program, and of those, two have graduated.
Although Tanner's program is only six months long, many inmates struggle with it and cannot finish.
"It's very difficult because they don't want to take their medication that is prescribed for them because they don't like the way it makes them feel, so they do street drugs instead," Tanner said. "They end up getting back in trouble again and again. This is why the numbers that I have are so low because they can't stay in the program very long because the street drugs are more exciting for them then the prescribed drugs."
Right now four inmates are preparing to graduate from Tanner's program.
Tomorrow morning the 47th District Attorney's Office will be hosting a special graduation ceremony for their first graduate.
The ceremony will begin at 9:00 a.m. inside the 108th District Court on 501 S. Fillmore.