Roanoke City jail, will begin a new program that will benefit mentally ill patients. About 30 days or so before being released, mentally ill inmates will receive assistance with housing and mental health treatment. I am pleased with this news. My family had a relative who was incarcerated, who had a diagnosis of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, as well as addiction issues.
We received a call, about 30 days prior to his release asking if he could stay with us. I suggested he first go to a halfway house for 60-90 days to make sure he could adapt to society, obtain proper medication and get counseling so he would not relapse on drugs. They had nothing in place, and said he would be released whether we so we took him in or not.
To keep him from being homeless, we allowed him to stay with us. It took time for him to get his first doctor appointment. As we waited he displayed behaviors that had us a on edge. He would walk and pace for up to an hour at a time. He drank an entire pot of coffee within 30 minutes .He could not sleep at night, and he ate us out of house and home. He would drink entire pitchers of Kool-aid, and he talked non stop. Within 2 weeks, he had relapsed on drugs and was stealing from us. It was a nightmare.
Had there been something in place back then, many families besides my own would have had an easier transition. And many felons would not have to return to jail. With proper medication and treatment, men and women with emotional issues should be able acclimate themselves back into mainstream society much easier than without an assistance.
Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring is on a statewide tour to talk to law enforcement officials to gain more insight into the situation. Last year, 27% of inmates in the area served by Blue Ridge behavorial heath care, were found to need mental health services.
Roanoke sheriff Tim Allen, attended the meeting when the Attorney genera stopped in Roanoke. He shared how many mentally ill inmates end up on the streets once they are released from prison. Without families to take them in as we did my relative, these people have nowhere to go.
I have an acquaintance, who works at the Roanoke Rescue Mission. She often talks about those with mental illness who would rather sleep in the elements, even in freezing weather because they cannot be confined, or follow rules. I hope everything falls into place for this new program because we a will benefit when they mentally ill get proper treatment, have proper housing, and stay out of jail.