Report: Inmate mental health biggest issue facing Alvin S. Glenn - - Columbia, South Carolina |

Report: Inmate mental health biggest issue facing Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center

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In November, Richland County administrators hired a firm out of New York to perform an operational-management study on the Alvin S. Glenn Detention Center.

The study began in December, and on Wednesday, those findings were released.

There are more than 100 findings and more than 200 recommendations in the full report.

Technology, medical care, and internal investigations are some of the topics, but the biggest issue, is mental health.

"We want to make the jail a facility that all citizens of Richland County can be proud of, and also to make sure that the inmates that are being housed here are getting the services they need," said Seth Rose, Richland County Councilman for District 5.

The study, put together by Pulitzer/Board & Associates, LLC,  found large numbers of inmates with mental illness are straining jail resources.

The detention center has added a forth mental health counselor and is working to hire a full-time psychiatrist, but that's not enough, according to the study.

One recommendation is that staff needs more training on managing inmates with serious mental illness. Another is that separate housing is needed  for inmates with mental illness.

"We have to start looking at how we're going to do that, how we're going to accomplish that financially, and at what rate we can do that," said Rose.

The jail budget is $21 million; there's no estimate right now of how much a new wing would cost.

"With the budget cuts we've seen at the state level with the Department of Mental Health, we see more and more people with mental illness that are finding their way into our facility," said Rose.

One improvement in mental illness care in the facility is that there is access to medications. Previously, the jail did not have the medications needed to help mental illness.

Another major issue is compensation, which comes as no surprise to Rose.

"Our detention officers are under paid in comparison to other counties," said Rose.

The report finds low salaries contribute to the 13 percent vacancy rate in staffing.

Rose said it's hard to recruit employees.

"To do that, you have to pay a salary that people can live on," said Rose.

Richland County has done a compensation study, those results are expected to be released soon.

Another finding in the report, is that training seems to focus more on force than communication. An example given was that handcuffs and tasers are used more than talking through situations with inmates.

There will be another committee meeting set up, but no decision yet on when that will be.

Nine Major Findings:

1. Staff at all levels of the organization, including the director and assistant director, welcomed the scrutiny of an outside entity as an opportunity to improve.

2. The current Jail Management System (JMS) does not serve the needs of the ASGDC for reliable and comprehensive data for management and decision making.

3. Because of a lack of adequate, specially designed housing options for myriad inmate classifications, segregation housing has become the inappropriate default option for all specialized inmate requirements, which presents many concerns.

4. Large numbers of inmates with mental illness are straining ASGDC resources, compounding overall inmate supervision challenges and this problem, which is being experienced in jails nationwide, will only become more challenging in the coming years.

5. Future facility needs are not so much population driven as they are necessary to improve inmate housing options and remedy other facility shortfalls.

6. The Study revealed several areas of obvious staffing deficiencies and also inherent problems with the organizational structure that interfere with effective supervision of inmates and management of the facility.

7. The ASGDC has shown a significant commitment to implementing direct supervision principles as the best practices approach to inmate behavior management, although the optimal level of positive staff-inmate interactions has not been achieved.

8. While the percentage of detention officer vacancies has dropped significantly since the time of the 2008 Audit, the ASGDC continues to operate with a very high 13% vacancy rate.

9. With the vast majority of ASGDC inmates eventually returning to the community-many far sooner than later- the ASGDC does not currently maintain a robust, highly organized reentry program and continuum of services.

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