Douglas County sheriff’s office, officials to host open meeting on mental health, jail expansion projects

Area residents will have a chance to learn more about Douglas County’s potential jail expansion and mental health crisis intervention center projects on Monday evening during an open meeting.

During the meeting, officials will explain some of the conclusions they’ve reached from an early 2015 research project.

This spring, a team of representatives from Chicago’s Huskey & Associates, Kansas University, Bert Nash Community Mental Health Center and Sheriff Ken McGovern’s office were asked to look into the county’s needs concerning the jail and its population of inmates classified as seriously mentally ill, among other things.

The group examined four nonconsecutive months of data gathered on everyone booked into the Douglas County Jail during that time.

In June the research team hosted a preliminary meeting outlining some of their findings. There they said of the 1,971 bookings examined, 18 percent were classified as seriously mentally ill and may qualify for treatment alternatives to jail.

Those alternative treatments and mental health services could alleviate much of the pressure stemming from the jail’s ever-increasing inmate population, they said.

On Monday night, the research team will provide even more in-depth information gleaned from the study, said County Administrator Craig Weinaug.

“We’ll go into pretty big detail as to the data we’ve collected and the conclusions we’ve reached,” he said.

In addition, county officials will discuss recent trips to Louisville, Ky., Washington, D.C., San Antonio and Topeka to examine mental health facilities in different locations.

“We’ll talk about the different facilities we visited and what we learned there and what lessons we might apply,” Weinaug said.

A question and answer session will follow the presentations, Weinaug said.

The meeting is open to the public and will begin at 6 p.m. in the Douglas County Courthouse, 1100 Massachusetts St.