The Durham Sheriff’s Department has been awarded a Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program grant of $228,000 from the Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJS).

The purpose of the grant is to implement a system wide enhancement of identifying, screening and tracking prisoners in the jail in order to improve the jail’s ability to provide interventions.  Funds will also provide training to the jail staff in dealing with persons with mental illness.

The jail is partnering with the Criminal Justice Resource Center which operates the pre-trial service program and STARR, a substance abuse treatment program inside the jail.  Alliance Behavioral Health care, the LME/MCO for the Durham area is also a partner.

The jail is also preparing to implement a Mental Health pod/unit  to address mental health needs more appropriately.  Ongoing training and staff support will be critical to the successful operation of this pod.

Durham County is actively participating in Stepping Up,  a nationwide initiative supported by the national Association of County Commissioners.  Stepping Up is designed to reduce the number of persons with mental illness in local jails. This process has helped partners identify key areas for improvement.  We commend the Sheriff’s Department for working in collaboration with other community agencies to address mental health issues in the jail.