Jail Over-Crowding Part 2 

Not every person who winds up in jail has a mental health issue, but there are many who do.Corrections officials say often, they can’t find the proper help and resources to make it on the outside.Licensed Clinical Social Worker Corey Schwinn works with inmates at the Washington County Jail in Machias.”I see a lot of mental health need. I see people who have attempted to get services on the outside and rather it’s because of waiting lists or funding issues or because they thought things were going okay and so therefore they withdrew from the resource that was available to them. I see sometimes a pattern of behavior that leads to self-medicating with drugs and alcohol,” said Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Corey Schwinn.Schwinn stresses that having a mental health issue doesn’t mean you’ll end up in jail, but it may increase the possibility.”They have the behavioral health symptoms of increased agitation, increased irritability, challenges in accurately interpreting their environment such as in psychosis. Those kind of behaviors can increase the likelihood of somebody making poor choices that may lend themselves in the system,” said Schwinn.Working one-on-one with these inmates, he sees the challenges they face.”The time that it takes to get processed through the system, sometimes in that time span they may lose their employment, they may lose their house or their family may become more distant to them,” said Schwinn.When dealing with these inmates, he has a main focus.”What do we need to do in order to increase the likelihood that you’re not going to come back here into the correctional facility?” said Schwinn.Unfortunately, he says there are not enough transitional programs, which is why they wind up back in jail.”There’s more need then what can be attended to. The community mental health programs over the last number of years, I’ve watched it kind of get it cut back in a variety of different areas and different ways of losing funding over time,” said Schwinn.A story he says he hears often.”Recently, I’ve talked to a number of people who have been trying to access psychiatric services in this local community for a long time and had been on a waiting list for months, if not a year,” said Schwinn.Schwinn says things will only get worse if cuts to mental health programs continue, especially since people like him are already working on a minimal budget.”When you take away community services and your pair down community services or make access to those services and resources more challenging to attain, then it sets up the potential again for the self-medicating, the behavior to be able to make it in a pro-social manner and therefore find themselves in a bad situation,” said Schwinn.