The Prince William Board of County Supervisors recently voted to accept a $410,898 grant from the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS), to hire two mental health therapists to work at the Prince William-Manassas Regional Adult Detention Center.

The 18-month grant comes after the Adult Detention Center (ADC) submitted a concept paper to the DCJS to establish a pilot program that will work to provide services to mentally ill female offenders in the hopes of reducing recidivism.

The two new therapists will focus on the female population at the jail. The person who fills the new full-time position will provide therapeutic programs to changing criminal behavior and train staff on mental health issues. The person who fills the new part-time position will help with reentry services for people returning to the community. The ADC currently has three full-time mental health therapists who focus on mental health assessments and crisis stabilization, ADC Superintendent Pete Meletis told the board.

A presentation to the board showed that the ADC continues to see a rise in the number of people incarcerated who suffer from mental illness. Roughly, 25 percent of the women incarcerated at the ADC, which serves Prince William County and the cities of Manassas and Manassas Park, suffer from mental illness.  The recidivism rate for female inmates with mental health issues is approximately 40 percent.

Additionally, the presentation showed that the program will help people return to the community with the transfer of medication, setting up emergency housing and connecting with mental health services in the community.

Maj. Amanda Lambert, the director of support services at the ADC, said the transfer of medication helps people between the time they are released from jail to their first appointment with community services. “Right now they’re leaving jail without any medication. The wait time to get into Community Services can be lengthy, so they decompensate and reoffend. The goal is to send them out of here with an appointment with Community Services and enough medication to carry them through that appointment. If I had to choose the one thing that makes people reoffend it would be because they don’t have their medication.”

Lambert said the program should help reduce recidivism. “Because it is a pilot program and we’re implementing programs that we’ve never had before, we can’t forecast what this is going to look like. We’re hoping that, with the programs we’ll be able to implement with this funding, we’ll be able to decrease that number significantly.”

The program, which is fully funded by the grant, will run through June 30, 2018. The staff report showed that if the program can’t be funded by future grants, it would end after June 30, 2018.

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