Officials Break Ground on New Mental Health Facility for Jail Inmates

Officials broke ground in Andalusia Tuesday, marking the beginning of a South Central Alabama Mental Health Board Residential Forensic Facility.

The facility will help inmates with mental health issues facing charges get the help they need.

The Covington County Commission provided the land. It will be located by the county jail, for security measures.

“It will be used to determine whether or not they are competent to stand trial or if they need to be restored into competitency to go back into the community, all the way into the community level,” Alabama Department of Mental Health Commissioner Lynn Beshear says.

The facility it will identify needs and provide support for those needs.
It will also offer educational programs for inmates who are not fully aware of how the judicial system works.

“So what this does is expand our capacity to serve individuals so we can as quickly as possible identify their particular needs, their particular issues and then have a plan that moves forward to provide whatever is needed, whether they are restored to competency to stand trial and that often is the case. Or in the case where they’re not, if they are determined to be guilty by reason of insanity,” Beshear says.

“People who are adjudicated and don’t understand something about the legal system, can come to our facility,” Executive Director of the SCAMH Tommy Wright says. “It’s part of a program will be to educate them about legal process.”

Patients are expected to remain in the facility for one to six months for necessary treatments. The new mental health facility will invest about $1.5 million annually into the local economy and create about 25 jobs.

If the inmate is not fit enough to stand trial, programs are put in place to address the issues.

The residential forensics facility will be the second state-wide, but the first program of this kind.
“The ripples from this stone being dropped today will go on and on throughout the state and we are so excited that this is really our first model brand new program like this to open,” Beshear says.

Officials say the facility is scheduled to open in June.

Categories: News, South Alabama