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Ellensburg, WA 98926-2887
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Kittitas (pronounced 'KITT-i-tass') County is located in central Washington
State. It spans from the lush forested Cascade Mountains to the upper Yakima River Valley plains and
the Columbia River.
Kittitas County, WA -
The US Department of Justice has awarded almost $500,000 to the Kittitas County Jail to develop and build on existing mental health treatment programs for inmates. Our jail has taken a leadership role in viewing incarceration not merely as punishment but an opportunity to intervene in cycles of drug abuse, mental and emotional health issues, and criminal recidivism. This grant will combine with mental health and substance abuse programs already in place to help people in crisis and, hopefully, get them on a path to addressing the issues that got them into jail in the first place.
The DOJ grant is part of the Bureau of Justice’s “Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program (JMHCP).” The DOJ’s program goals include, “building and expanding existing mental health collaboration programs … to mitigate the risks of recidivism for individuals with mental health and co-occurring substance abuse disorders.” For the Kittitas County Jail, that will mean building on already-existing programs that prepare inmates who receive services while incarcerated for a ‘warm hand-off’ to partner agencies, service providers on the outside. Studies show a dramatically higher success rate for people in recovery from substance abuse, mental or emotional health problems, when they are linked with services immediately on release from a controlled environment like a jail.
Like all correctional facilities around our country, the Kittitas County Jail has seen a dramatic rise in the number of inmates with mental or emotional health issues in recent years. There is a critical shortage of treatment options and facilities, in our county and throughout our state, for those with severe mental health problems. For some of these people, jail is an unfortunate last resort. For many such people, nothing we can do in a jail setting will be able to replace the critical mental health infrastructure that needs to be built up around our state. This grant, though, will add to efforts already in place to help those we can.
This grant will extend over three years and will include programs and personnel, including hiring an inmate case manager. That case manager will free the therapist and designated crisis responder who already works in our jail to focus on treating inmates, and will improve the efficiency of our partnerships with other care providers.
Sheriff Clay Myers noted, “These efforts are ultimately about safety and quality of life in our county. If we can intervene and impact inmate’s lives in a way that keeps them from criminal activities in the future, it’s a win for them and for everyone in our community.”
Kittitas County, from the Cascades to the Columbia, and online at http://www.co.kittitas.wa.us
Kittitas County has a total area of 2,333 square miles. The highest point in the county is Mount Daniel at 7,959 feet above sea level.