New Ways to Help Inmates with Mental Illnesses

Published: Thursday 7th of January 2016

One group is changing the way they're handling it.

Helping people with mental illnesses isn't easy, especially when those people are in jail. Peoria county jail entrance

One group in Peoria is stepping up its efforts and trying to make a difference in their lives.

"Obviously, if you're out here, you're almost at your lowest point if you're in jail."

Jennifer Logan has made a career of helping people at their lowest point.

It's a tough job, especially if that person lives with mental illness.

"We want to get them out of this environment and get them into recovery to stop this cycle, this legal cycle."

Cindy Gilmer and human service center of Peoria also work with inmates who live with mental illness.

"This year, we're hoping to actually start groups out here,” Logan said.

The groups will focus on drug abuse which law enforcement and social service workers say is a growing problem in Peoria County.

"We've seen a huge increase in people who have come into the jail that have issues with substances,” Logan said.

"It just made sense that we be a part of that continuum,” Gilmer said.

The group, having worked in the jail for years, believes its new approach could cut down the number of people behind bars.

"Obviously, they may have violated a law in which, legally, the officer needed to arrest them, but so many of them really need treatment verses incarceration,” Gilmer said.

The hope is the new treatment will create new opportunities for those dealing with mental illness and addiction.

"Some of them either haven't done treatment before, haven't looked into it, and if it's so much easier to get it started here, then hopefully they will continue it,” Logan said.

Human service center has somebody working in the jail seven days a week.