TULSA--Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado said once the 43,000 square foot expansion project is complete, there will be more room for inmates suffering from mental illness.
"With funding cut for mental health needs across the state, we're certainly going to be very busy and I don't think it'll take long before we reach capacity,” said Sheriff Regalado.
Mental health experts say roughly 30 percent of Tulsa County's inmate population has some sort of mental illness. With the expansion, detention officers are required to have special training to work with mentally ill inmates.
"They'll all be trained in crisis intervention training which is an evidence based training that has shown increases in officer safety as well as increases in safety in people dealing with mental illness,” Mental Health Association of OK Criminal Justice Specialist Katie David.
Experts say the expansion creates a more humane approach for inmates who have mental illness, with two out of the four pods being built specifically for mental health.
"Since the institutions closed back in the 60's and 70's now jails are basically the defacto mental health institutions,” said David.
Sheriff Regalado said with more space and trained officers, will help inmates with mental illness get the care they need.
"When those needs are being addressed I think it provides a little bit of comfort for them as well as their families,” said Sheriff Regalado.
The Tulsa County Jail expansion project is expected to be complete by late February, early March.
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