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Chatham County Detention Center gets mental health accreditation
Savannah Morning News - 10/29/2019
The Chatham County Detention Center was honored on Friday for being the first facility in the United States to achieve mental-health accreditation from the National Commission on Correctional Health Care at the Chatham CountyBoard of Commission's biweekly meeting.
Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher announced the accreditation, commending the effort underway to improve mental-health treatment at the detention center, where many inmates suffer from psychiatric disorders.
"People that suffer from mental illnesses and minor offenses end up in our local detention center because oftentimes they've been abandoned by family members and they've had problems staying on their medication," said commissioner Helen Stone, who said she sympathizes with detention center employees who end up facing inmate-care situations that they are not always prepared for. "They do the very best they can, but they are not trained psychiatrists and psychologists."
Addressing the county commissioners, Wilcher said that the task of overseeing hundreds of inmates with varied mental-health issues continues to be a challenge, but expressed confidence that the Sheriff's Office is making progress.
"It's a sad state of affairs when I've got over 350 people in my jail today just on psychotropic drugs," Wilcher said, acknowledging that many inmates would be much better served in civilian mental-illness treatment programs instead of being incarcerated, but not all of them. "The real bad ones, yeah, we need to house them in the jail."
In another police-related agenda item, D. Everett Ragan, the Chatham-Savannah Counter Narcotics Team director, delivered a report of his agency's activities in July and August. According to Ragan's statistics, the value of drugs seized in Chatham County in 2019 is currently over $3.9 million, while 136 people have been arrested by CNT officers so far this year.
While approving the action calendar as a consent agenda, the county commissioners accepted a non-matching renewal award from the Victims of Crime Act grant for funds in the amount of $450,871, which will provide salaries, benefits, and training for five full-time advocates and three part-time advocates. This funding will continue through Sept. 30, 2020.
The meeting agenda also included first readings of two rezoning requests. One petitioner wants to change the status of a 5.02-acre parcel on the south side of Ogeechee Road between Bradley Boulevard and Bamboo Farm Drive from residential-agriculture classification to neighborhood business classification. The second petitioner aims to rezone parcels at 101 Middle Landing Road from residential-agriculture classification to neighborhood business classification. These proposals will be given second readings at the next county-commissioner meeting.
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