Program helps mentally ill inmates - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Program helps mentally ill inmates

April 27, 2006

Albany - A Dougherty County program that helps mentally ill inmates stay out of jail once they're released is spotlighted across the nation. Judge Steven Goss worked to implement the program in 2001 after seeing mentally ill people get put in jail time after time, for problems that could have been avoid if they had proper counseling and medication.

The program helps not on mentally ill inmates, but also those addicted to drugs.  Half of the inmates that have completed the program, have stayed out of jail which saves taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

Dougherty County was chosen as one of five counties in the nation to be part of a national training and research program. Other counties will come here to see or success and learn how to start similar programs. Goss hopes that will lead to more money to expand.

"Hopefully with us being one of the five national sites, that might put us in line down the road for some foundation funding for some capital improvements such as group homes, housing, etc. that we just can't fund out of a government budget on an ongoing basis," said Goss. 

Now, the state gives Dougherty County $350,000 a year to pay for counseling, medication and other help for these inmates in the program.

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