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Lack of Psychiatric Resources Leads to Issues For Indiana County Jails, Sheriffs Say

Local law enforcement officials in Indiana say many county jails across the state have become last resort stops for the mentally ill.A legislative study committee heard Monday  from county sheriffs who said local communities have a lack of resources for people in need of psychiatric help. Many of the mentally ill end up in jails instead. The sheriffs also said staff members are ill-equipped to provide needed care."The Golden Rule in the jail business is we are required to release these people in as good a condition or better than we received them," said Ken Murphy, the sheriff of Franklin County in southeastern Indiana. "And I’ll be frank with you, we’re not doing that."Murphy said most of the mentally ill people brought to his jail have committed low-level crimes and are soon back out on the street. Inmates who are ordered to psychiatric hospitals are typically admitted for 24 to 48 hours and released, he said.Murphy told lawmakers that more resources need to be committed to building regional facilities that can provide long-term intensive care.

Rick Howlett was midday host and the host of LPM's weekly talk show, "In Conversation." He was with LPM from 2001-2023 and held many different titles, including Morning Edition host, Assignment Editor and Interim News Director. He died in August 2023. Read a remembrance of Rick here.

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