Dr. Jones Tapia, knows all too well how prevalent mental illness is among those incarcerated and how frequently it goes ignored in jails and prisons, often leading to increased maltreatment and increased difficulties and multiple re-incarcerations when individuals are later released. With her background in mental health, Dr. Jones Tapia is hoping to change this current culture and has already been working to implement changes to better address mental well-being.
"The program she is most proud of — and the centerpiece of efforts to overhaul the jail — is the mental health transition center...
Five days a week, a group of about 15 inmates with mental illnesses like depression, bipolardisorder and schizophrenia, receive cognitive behavioral therapy, job readiness skills and extra recreation.
The warden said such inmates who were released without such services were often back within weeks as they amassed dozens, even hundreds, of arrests for petty crimes like shoplifting and drug possession because they were unable to obtain the prescription drugs needed to treat their condition. Many are rearrested just to receive treatment, so upon their release, inmates are now given a two weeks’ supply of medication.
“If somebody doesn’t have access to the basic tools to survive, they’re more likely to recommit a crime and come back,” Dr. Jones Tapia said. “So we know it’s not just a mental health problem. It’s more of a well-being problem.”"
You can read more about the health services offered at Cooks County and the other changes in the works by checking out the article here: