The La Plata County jail received a major boost in funds for its behavior health program recently.
The Colorado Office of Behavior Health granted the jail $227,000 this fiscal year, up from $150,000, Detentions Capt. Michael Slade said. This will allow Axis Health System to provide a new case worker and clinician to work with inmates.
Axis employees have been working with inmates who have substance-abuse problems and those with a dual diagnosis of a mental illness and an addiction for the last three years. The program has received increased funding each year. Following the funding increase, a total of five Axis staff members will be able to serve the jail.
“Almost everybody that has a mental illness has a drug problem that goes with it,” Slade said.
Before the expansion of the behavioral-health program, a psychiatrist visited twice a week to see patients.
Now, inmates are more likely to form a relationship with their counselor and continue treatment after they leave the jail, he said.
Axis staff members maintain contact with 46 percent of the inmates they start treating in the jail, Axis clinical manager Rick Jacobsen said. This is one of the highest rates in the state, he said.
In addition to working on addiction problems, Axis also works to connect inmates with resources to meet basic needs such as food and housing when they leave jail.
The overall goal is to reduce recidivism among inmates and the cycle of substance abuse.
“Our objective is to close that revolving door,” Jacobsen said.
The voluntary program has had strong interest since it started, and it has helped with managing behavioral problems among inmates, Slade said. Many inmates who have assaulted other inmates or destroyed property calm down after they met with mental- health staff, Slade said.
The Montezuma County Jail also will receive an additional $61,000 for behavioral health services from Axis this fiscal year.
The state’s fiscal year runs from July through June.