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Jail providing help with dependency, mental illness

Administrator says more women being incarcerated

MARSHALL — As the number of inmates spending time inside the Lyon County Jail rises, more is being done to deal with mental illness and drug and alcohol dependency issues, according to Jail Administrator Brad Marks.

During his presentation to the noon Marshall Rotary Club last week, Marks said the percentage of inmates that are female is also increasing.

“We can see our intakes are increasing. We can see that the females are making up a larger majority of our population. They are spending more days in jail,” Marks said.

In 1996, Marks said 826 people spent time in the Lyon County jail and served 9,563 days. That included 132 females serving time, which was 16 percent of the total population.

In 2016, the female percentage jumped 10 percent. The total confinement days jump to 11,572 and the number of people serving time jumped to 987.

According to Marks, the average daily population was 26.13 in 1996 and today it’s 46.22.

Looking back, Marks said he is seeing alcohol and drug dependency playing a larger role in the jails recidivism rate of 70 percent — seven out of 10 people leaving the jail after serving out their term will return. Mental illness is another increasing issue.

“Throughout their incarceration, whether that be two days, five days, 30 days, 90 days, 100 days, whatever it is, we are actively addressing the signs and symptoms of mental illness,” Marks said. “The people that come to jail, 100 percent of them are going back out into our communities. We do ourselves a disservice if all we do is warehouse them, stick them in a cell and say good luck, goodbye, see you in a week and then hit the street. We address dependence and mental illness.”

Marks said the county has a contract with Western Mental Health Center.

“So currently we have a therapist that comes to our facility weekly and they will conduct sessions with the inmates. We have a referral process with Western Health Center and the therapist. If a referral needs to be made for further diagnosis, analysis, treatment, that can be made,” he said.

Marks also announced that in a couple weeks the jail will be able to link up to mental health service providers such as the psychologists and psychiatrists.

He said these services are important because the people struggling with dependency and mental illness put stresses on the entire community from local businesses, the police departments, first responders and hospitals.

“(Currently) there is a less of stigma attached to mental illness,” Marks said. “Perhaps 20 years ago, that was something you spoke about in hushed tones in the back corner of the room. Now it’s more of a open discussion.”

Another trend Marks has noticed is the increasing transient population.

“Twenty years ago, we knew everybody that came in. We knew them by name, we knew their families,” he said. “Whether they are just passing through, or they have family members here and they decide to move here.”

Marks said he has seen inmates he can trace back to the Chicago area, Alabama, Mississippi, the Carolinas and Georgia.

“A lot of people seem to making their way to this area. I can’t really determine why for various reasons, but they are making up an increasing number of our populations. We are also seeing, that they are also making up an increasing number of those we can identify with mental illness as well,” he said.

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