YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – WKBN’s Community Affairs Director Dee Crawford sat down with Mahoning County Sheriff Jerry Greene to discuss his budget, which is one of the biggest in the county, as well as the jail’s role in addressing mental health concerns.
“… [The budget is] at about $24 million. A lot of that has to do with increases in medical costs, increases in mental health costs, with the inmates that we have there. Obviously, increases in pay of our officers, increases in workman’s comp,” he said.
Greene also discussed his department’s role in addressing mental health issues.
“What I can say is — and I’ve heard this mentioned, and it’s actually very true that the Mahoning County Jail is the biggest mental health hospital in Mahoning County — and although that’s a little bit humorous, the reality is, is if you think of us housing 500 inmates, which we could our house up to 570, it’s a pretty solid number that about one-third of those inmates are on some form of psychotropic medication, and that’s very high,” he said.
At the jail, inmates are placed into different pods, depending on their circumstances. There are medical pods, mental health pods, those for women and juveniles, as well as different pods based on the types of crimes that have been committed.
“You’re not going to want those individuals that were charged with murder in with somebody that’s driving under a suspended license, so you classify those individuals,” Greene said. “But one of the biggest things we have learned is certainly the mental health aspect of caring for these individuals. You know, people think that they’re just in jail, and that’s it. Well, no, we have a 24, or 24/7 food service in that building.”
“We have a 24/7 medical; we have a medical housing area in that facility, and then one of the most important things that we’re looking at right now is the mental health. We have a psychiatrist that visits there a couple of days a week. We have two different mental health associates that come in. They’re counselors; they work with these individuals,” he added.
Greene said there is also a program to identify those with mental health issues and work with them to get them help once they’re released.
Dee also talked to the sheriff about how his office adapted during COVID and its mission going forward to fight violence. You can see that on First News at 5 p.m. Wednesday or later on WKBN.com.
You can also see Dee’s interview with Greene about the scope of the Sheriff’s Office here.