Archive for Sunday, March 11, 2012

Sheriff warns of effects from cuts

March 11, 2012


As advocates ask state legislators to spare the state’s mental health system from further cuts, they argue taxpayers will still bear the costs as more mentally ill individuals will end up in county jails or correctional facilities.

“It’s like squeezing a balloon full of water,” Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center CEO David Johnson said. “It doesn’t really get smaller. It just goes some place else.”

Johnson, who leads the Douglas County agency, said community mental health centers statewide have experienced $59 million in cuts since 2008 because of the state’s budget crisis. Included in that, mental health reform grants were cut by $20 million, and nearly $10 million was cut in 2010 because of Medicaid rate reductions.

Douglas County Sheriff Ken McGovern in February urged support of funding the state’s community mental health system when he testified before a House committee on a hearing about the social services budget.

“With the responsibility of providing mental health services shifting from the state to the local level, the financial burden also shifted,” McGovern wrote in a letter to the committee. “There has been an unintended secondary shift as well, from the local mental health providers to the local criminal justice systems in jails.”

McGovern said it is difficult for law enforcement to deal with people who have mental health issues and either do not receive treatment at the local level or refuse to take advantage of services. The individuals often end up frequently being arrested for minor offenses, and once they’re released from jail, they are typically arrested again later either for re-offending or for failing to appear in court.

The sheriff’s office has geared up a re-entry program in recent years aimed at reducing recidivism rates. In 2011, the jail hired three full-time case managers with grant funds to work with inmates and help them successfully re-enter society as law-abiding citizens. McGovern credits the program for helping reduce the jail population to 90 to 100 inmates. The jail’s maximum capacity is 186 inmates.

The sheriff in his February letter said jail officials estimate that one individual he did not identify who has been arrested more than 110 times the past 10 years has cost taxpayers more than $25,000 a year.

The Journal-World in a 2010 analysis came to the same conclusion in the case of Robert “Simon” Gilmore, a Lawrence man often seen downtown who was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia as a child. The sheriff’s office also contracted with Bert Nash and a local psychiatrist to provide in-house services for inmates, which cost $85,000 in 2011.

“It is much more cost-effective for local mental health services to treat the mentally ill than to house them in jails,” McGovern wrote.

Johnson said that message likely would resonate more with policy makers if it comes from law enforcement and corrections officials instead of only mental health advocates.

Mental health advocates are asking the state not to cut $5 million statewide that funds family-centered system of care funds to help mentally ill children and their families, Johnson said. It’s funded with tobacco litigation settlement revenue.

Janice Storey, the Bert Nash program director for children and family services, said the funds in Douglas County have helped families and children get treatment and also helped service providers in communities meet to discuss strategies for mental health issues. Storey said further program cuts could add to a cumulative effect to what has already been reduced.

“I think we do see a direct impact,” Storey said, “on how many folks may be going to jail or how many kids may be going into the detention center.”

Rick Cagan, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness for Kansas, said legislators did not follow a recommendation from Gov. Sam Brownback’s office last year to cut the funds. He said community mental health centers were also facing a $1.8 million reduction in funding for conducting screens for individuals not on Medicaid but need to go into state hospitals.

“It’s just another reduction in funding that they have to absorb,” he said.


pace 5 years, 11 months ago

Brownback is destroying needed infrastructure, he is doing on the backs of working families, stripping education, medical, any program he can get his fingers in to convert state resources to his cronies. His special cuts, cut not to the bone, through the bone.

Bob Forer 5 years, 11 months ago

What's happened to today's republican parfy. They seem to no longer care about people, except the unborn and the very wealthy. Must be miserable being a republican.

Scott Morgan 5 years, 11 months ago

There must be 51 % of our nation in the very wealthy category because the GOP will mass at least this number come November.

Bob Forer 5 years, 11 months ago

You're right vertigo. And those same people you speak of tend to be not as intelligent as some of us, for example, not knowing the grammatical difference between mass and amass.

geekin_topekan 5 years, 11 months ago

Reaganomics insists that the mentally ill will receive their necessary care through community efforts and not the federal gubment. It is the Repubs responsibility to treat the mentally ill as per their guru from the 80's.

Being ill is not a crime. jailing them is unconstitutional and repubs know it but they'd rather prey upon the sick and injured to voice their hate greed. Rather than admit that they would make mental illness a crime as it was prior to the civil war, they make the symptoms of mental illness illegal, like camping and sitting on the sidewalk, thereby justifying the jailing of the mentally ill.

This town is striving to become Ottawa or Salina in everyway it can.

Scott Morgan 5 years, 11 months ago

Reaganomics ?? It was Jimmy Carter who bleated Community Mental Health. I can think of nothing more damaging in our nations history.

Most often a seriously mentally ill individuals, and most know this very well has to do is stabilize themselves, and it's back on the street. A vicious dangerous existence.

I also challenge the Leming thought Community Based Mental Health actually works. County and state mental hospitals in many cases were well run. These cost efficient forms of care are now the way of the dodo.

Community based mental health care. In Lawrence check under the bridges.

A city the size of Lawrence has not one, uno, repeat one hospital bed for a serious mentally ill person.

Richard Heckler 5 years, 11 months ago

Why vote republican ever again? They keep repeating themselves = wreckanomics1

Flap Doodle 5 years, 11 months ago

merrill razzing somebody for repeating themselves? Major LOLZ!

Steve Jacob 5 years, 11 months ago

Let's not put all the blame on Republicans on this one. There is just not enough tax money to go around. And who wants to pay more taxes? How many complaints have I heard here about voting ourselves a tax increase for buses and a library..

Chris Beilman 5 years, 11 months ago

Just to name a few ... Building Permit Tax CDL License Tax Cigarette Tax Corporate Income Tax Communication Tax (cell phones, internet, cable, etc..) Dog License Tax Federal Income Tax (Fed) Federal Unemployment Tax (FU TA) Fishing License Tax Food License Tax Fuel Permit Tax Gasoline Tax Hunting License Tax Inheritance Tax Inventory Tax IRS Interest Charges (tax on top of tax) IRS Penalties (tax on top of tax) Liquor Tax Luxury Tax Marriage License Tax Medicare Tax Property Tax Real Estate Tax Service charge Taxes Social Security Tax Road Usage Tax (Truckers) Sales Taxes Recreational Vehicle Tax School Tax State Income Tax State Unemployment Tax (SUTA) Telephone Federal Excise Tax Telephone Federal Universal Service Fee Tax Telephone Federal, State and Local Surcharge Tax Telephone Minimum Usage Surcharge Tax Telephone Recurring and Non-recurringCharges Tax Telephone State and Local Tax Telephone Usage ChargeTax Utility Tax Vehicle License Registration Tax Vehicle Sales Tax Watercraft Registration Tax Well Permit Tax Workers Compensation Tax Caca Tax created by State and Local Surcharge Tax Not to mention all the fees built into some of these (And to think, some of our ancestors left British Rule to avoid so many taxes)

Scott Morgan 5 years, 11 months ago

Why is the above so hard to understand. BTW...........there is a special extra Jr. Birdsman whammo jammo Kansas tax on all hunting and fishing supplies. This tax was to help defray the cost of licenses and make it affordable for kids to learn outdoor skills. Also this money was to provide more areas to fish and hunt. hahahahahah, we bit like a big carp.

Not scene any evidence of such. To fish for trout in Shawnee Mission Park at age 15 costs well over 60 bucks. Have 3 or 4 children, or grandchildren this adds up.

you get a line, I'll get a pole we"all head to the crawdad hole, except we need to stop and get a payday loan first.

DillonBarnes 5 years, 11 months ago

This is not just a republican thing, cutting funding for mental health services is a nation-wide trend.

clarkk 5 years, 11 months ago

Thank you Sheriff McGovern for being so thoughtful & caring of others. The cutting of costs by Brownback is wrong. It makes it very difficult for the Officers to help if their hands are tied.

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