$400K federal grant aims to help those with mental health issues in Lucas Co. jail

$400K federal grant aims to help those with mental health issues in Lucas Co. jail
Sheriff John Tharp hopes it will lower the recidivism rate.

TOLEDO (WTOL) - The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council in Lucas County announced Monday it’s been awarded a $400,000 federal grant to help the council’s Justice and Mental Health program.

Federal grant aims to help those suffering from mental illness in Lucas Co. jail

“We don’t like the individuals that will commit an offense, their case gets prosecuted and processed, they go back onto the street and then they re-offend,” Lucas County common pleas court judge Gene Zmuda said. “That re-offending often times is because the underlying addiction cycles have not been dealt with.”

It’s a question communities like northwest Ohio face on a daily basis: what to do with those who need help with mental and behavioral issues. Thanks to the grant, 62 percent of those booked into the Lucas County jail will be able to receive treatment.

Sheriff John Tharp hopes it will lower the recidivism rate.

“Knowing that those same individuals that have never had help now are getting help and we’re not seeing the same faces,” Tharp said. “That’s how you can really evaluate this.”

The criminal justice reform project, which comes out to $500,000 in total after a 20 percent contribution from local sources, will eventually include a path for some who are on the path to jail never to end up there at all.

“Ultimately we want to build a solutions center where we deflect people in the beginning from going to jail with behavioral health disorders,” Lucas County commissioner Tina Wozniak said

As for its importance, Zmuda said this program will heed great results and get people the help they need.

“It’s the first time that we recognized with money and institution that the separate systems of behavioral health and criminal justice have a nexus, and that nexus happens to be here in this jail,” he said.

The grant was one of 10 awarded nationwide.

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