Midwest City creates mental health jail program

The city of Midwest City wants to divert people with mental health issues from their jail. They will start a program to help connect people who are arrested find mental health services.
FROM STAFF REPORTS Modified: November 14, 2013 at 10:00 pm •  Published: November 13, 2013
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Midwest City officials have plans to start a mental health program that they hope reduces the number of repeat offenders they see come through the city jail's doors.

After seeing a continually high number of people arrested who were suffering from mental health issues, city officials proposed that they create a mental health program for the city jail.

The city council at Midwest City voted to unanimously approve the program earlier this week.

City spokeswoman Kay Hunt said Midwest City has the largest municipal jail in Oklahoma. These types of diversion programs are usually seen at a county jail level, but are not typical among city jails.

Police and city officials have worked together for the past year to better serve people who are arrested who suffer from mental health disorders.

“It's an opportunity to take what the department is already doing in regards to crisis intervention, just to a higher level,” Hunt said.

At this point, the concept is a pilot program. The Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services and the city of Midwest City are both funding the program.

The city will pay $26,000 provided through the police department's jail fund. The jail fund is a revenue-generating fund, financed through money made on inmates' phone services along with incarceration fees and money from housing prisoners.

Because of this, the program will not cost additional tax dollars, Hunt said.

A counselor for the program will be selected from the Red Rock Behavioral Health Services. The program will serve up to 25 people who will be approved by the city prosecutor before entering the program.