Mental health care to improve in prison

Published 08/06 2014 02:45PM

Updated 08/07 2014 11:42AM

Update: 6:03 pm
ILLINOIS -- The state is going to spend millions of taxpayer dollars to better treat mentally ill prisoners. Existing prison facilities will be converted to facilities to help treat and house those inmates. It will cost nearly $18 million. That's not the only expense. It will also cost millions to hire additional workers to treat the prisoners.
Original: 5:20 pm
ILLINOIS -- Staying healthy is one challenge. Mental illness is another; especially for inmates. It's a growing concern for state prisons and will cost taxpayers millions.

County jails are seeing a similar problem. The Sangamon County Jail, for one, has seen a huge increase in inmates with mental health disorders. An estimated 50% of its population has some type of mental health disorder.

Sangamon County Undersheriff Jack Campbell says, of that population, more than 20% have a "serious" illness. But, Campbell says the jail isn't equipped, structurally or financially, to house inmates suffering from mental illnesses.

The biggest increase came when the state closed many area facilities. The Sangamon County Jail does have a medical care provider who assists with mental health cases. But again, Campbell says it's costly.

Taking a look at the state. The Department of Corrections says Illinois taxpayers will be billed more than $17.8 million to turn existing prison space into mental healthcare facilities.

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