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Boone County Jail to get more mental health and addiction services for inmates

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BOONE COUNTY, Ind. -- After realizing a major problem when it comes to inmate care, Sheriff Mike Neilsen knew more resources were needed in the Boone County Jail.

"We are not treating our inmates properly when it comes to mental illness," admitted Sheriff Neilsen. "We’ve got to do a better job. We’ve got to change the way we’re doing business and help these folks get more mental health care."

Right now, inmates in need of mental health services in Boone County jail get two to three hours of help each month. Sheriff Neilsen said he's introducing a new mental and addiction service program to inmates starting next month. The services would help increase to 24 hours each week inside the jail and then an additional 24 hours per week for community services.

"By investing that $80,000 a year to make sure that we take care of those inmates, give them a little bit of hope when they leave have that continuity of care," Neilsen said.

The $80,000 is coming from a recent tax increase. Grants will also help support the program.

In the Boone County jail, there's about 120 inmates on a regular basis. Of those, about 75 percent need mental health and drug addiction services.

"Mental health and addiction services that we’re going to provide, they’re really intertwined," Sheriff Neilsen said.

The program will begin in March. Sheriff Neilsen is hoping the services will help reduce the jail's recidivism rate that's currently at 79 percent.

"Make them a better part of society when they leave and frankly, I don’t want them to come back here," said Sheriff Neilsen.

Jail officers will also be given access to mental health services. Sheriff Neilsen said it's important for officers to have services available to prevent PTSD and other issues they face on a daily basis while doing their jobs.