County Jail Ramps up Treatment for Inmate Mental Health and Addiction

Published: Thursday 7th of January 2016

The Peoria County Jail is honing in on treatment of mental health and drug addiction in 2016.

In 2015, the jail changed its medical contract to a new provider that works with the Human Service Center of Peoria.

Jail Superintendent Brian Asbell says the new agreement with local ties has helped keep inmates on a treatment track, post-release. Asbell says it’s like a patient leaving the doctor’s office and arranging the next appointment on the way out.

“Just having that continuity of care post-release, and I think that does have some play in this. We’re not just kicking them out the door with nothing,” Asbell said.

He says the change, coupled with the creation of a mental health court, lent to the jail’s lowest inmate population in 2015 in decades. The jail estimates 90 percent of its inmates have some form of mental illness.

The County Jail is also introducing a new treatment plan this year for inmates with addiction to narcotics, like heroin. Asbell says addressing drug addiction could further reduce the facility’s already lower-than-usual inmate population.

“There is an illness out there, and unfortunately a lot them end up in custody in an effort to support their habit, not just possessing it, but a lot of times you’ll start seeing your burglaries, your thefts associated with them trying to get the monetary means to buy their drugs,” Asbell said. 

The three-hour a week counseling sessions would be “tailor-made” for each inmate -- at no cost to taxpayers, Asbell said. The money to support it would come from the inmate benefit fund.