Madera County gets grant for mentally ill inmates | Fresno Bee Fresno Bee

Madera County will receive $869,547 over three years to focus on keeping mentally ill inmates from returning to jail.

The plan is to follow mentally ill inmates through the system with a Behavioral Health Court, similar to one already instituted in Fresno County, said Dennis Koch, director for Behavioral Health Services in Madera County.

Madera County recently started its Behavioral Health Court, and the state funding will emphasize following clients from their jail release to getting medication, access to housing or residential treatment, and then follow-up through the court and by behavioral health system workers.

“We have some people who have been in the jail nine months out of the year for the past six or seven years,” Koch said.

Typically, Koch said, the needs of mentally ill inmates are met in the jail. They get medication, they have shelter and are fed. It’s when they are released that their problems begin to mount, he said.

Each Behavioral Health Court client will be expected to show up periodically in court in front of Judge Dale Blea.

As the mentally ill repetitively offend, they consume services from law enforcement, the courts, social services, probation and the jail, costing taxpayers more money.

Koch said the program was developed by coordinating about two dozen county and outside organizations.

The Board of State Community Corrections awarded $17.1 million to 16 counties aimed at reducing recidivism among mentally ill inmates.

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