New Forsyth County Program Seeks To Reduce Incarcerations For Those Suffering From Mental Illness

New Forsyth County Program Seeks To Reduce Incarcerations For Those Suffering From Mental Illness

5:26pm Jul 11, 2016
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved a measure that will allow the grant application process to move forward during a meeting on Monday at the Government Center in downtown Winston-Salem. WFDD/KERI BROWN

Forsyth County will soon start a new pilot program to reduce the population of mentally ill inmates in the prison system. It’s part of a national movement called the Stepping Up Initiative.  

The program’s goal is to provide inmates struggling with mental illness and substance abuse with support services. Forsyth is among more than 20 counties in North Carolina looking at ways to implement the model locally.

“There’s really no discharge plan for this person when they leave, so then they go back to the community in the same cycle they are in,” says Ronda Tatum, the assistant county manager.Hopefully this program will help stop that cycle and give them the help they need so they can be productive in the community.”

They will focus on a small group of female inmates in the Forsyth Detention Center.

“Most of the females that were there had at least one dependent, so that child may be in the school system,” says Tatum. “Well there’s no connection that little Johnny may be acting out at school because his mom is in jail. It’s support for the female, but it probably will have residual impacts for the whole family as well."

Tatum says the success of the program will depend on building strong collaborations with other agencies and organizations.

The county hopes to secure $150,000 in community grants to start the program. The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners approved a proposal on Monday evening that will officially allow the county to move forward with the application process.

The Stepping Up Initiative is expected to begin next spring.

 

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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