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New grant to expand mental health, substance abuse resources at Tulsa County Jail

Posted at 10:32 PM, Oct 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-18 23:32:01-04

TULSA, Okla. — The Tulsa County District Attorney's Office and Family & Children Services have been awarded a $1.6 million federal grant for the Tulsa County Collaborative Jail Re-entry initiative.

It's an effort to help inmates struggling with mental health illness and substance abuse issues get the help they need before they are released.

“I would say that three-quarters of our jail has had or continues to be impacted to substance abuse issues," Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado said.

Regalado, said just within the last few weeks, the number of inmates with substance abuse issues in the Tulsa County Jail has grown exponentially. Also on the rise are mental health issues.

“Mental health treatment is obviously very important to start inside a jail because sometimes people are getting into treatment outside the jail and it’s getting disrupted while they’re in David L. Moss," Katherine Ronnow Criminal Justice Project Manager with Family & Children Services said. “So if we could continue their mental health treatment and their mental health outcomes would be better."

Ronnow said the money will be allocated over the course of three years and will fund several positions, including a full-time prosecutor from the DA's office who will be assigned to the Bond Docket to identify mental illness or substance abuse within 24 hours of the inmate being booked.

“If we can identify them early and get them from jail into treatment and continue into treatment, maybe then we can stop that cycle of them going in and out of the jail due to their mental illness or substance abuse," Ronnow said.

Ronnow said the money will also help fund a case manager who will work directly with the incarcerated people, along with a case recovery support specialist. She said Tulsa is the first county in Oklahoma to start treatment services of this kind inside the jail.

“Hopefully we can reduce the number of inmates and we can reduce the length of stay that they’re in there so if someone with severe mental illness needs to leave the jail and actually have a crisis inpatient setting, same thing with substance abuse, we can get them quicker with this grant," she said.

Ronnow said they will partner with the D-A's office and work with a prosecutor to asses the crime committed and ensure that once the inmate goes back into the community, they would not be a risk to anyone.

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