RD521 - Potential Use of Peumansend Creek Regional Jail as a Facility for Individuals with Mental Illness Who are Incarcerated in Virginia Jails (Item 383.C) – October 1, 2017
The Secretary of Public Safety and Homeland Security and the Secretary of Health and Human Resources have prepared this report on potential options for continued utilization of Peumansend Creek Regional Jail to serve individuals with mental illness who are incarcerated in Virginia Jails. As part of the process, a multi-disciplinary, multi-agency work group of advisory members from the Center for Behavioral Health & Justice was convened to provide input on the benefits and challenges of creating a specialized mental health jail to serve individuals with mental illness. The group members brought expertise from areas to include jail operations, clinical operations, court processes, and human rights advocacy. The input and recommendations of the work group are reflected in this report.
Several HHR and PSHS staff toured the facility, reporting to the Secretaries and sharing information with the workgroup. The workgroup examined issues related to steps necessary to appropriately convert the existing facility and with determining the clinical, legal and safety needs of individuals who might be appropriately housed in such a facility. The report addresses options for financing; governance and accountability; administration; security; operational, medical and mental health treatment standards; as well as transport procedures. The report does not address issues regarding contact with the Department of the Army or leadership at Fort AP Hill, as it was not deemed necessary or appropriate as the state has no role in the agreement regarding the land use, nor given the many challenges which would need to be overcome in order to use the property as a mental health correctional facility. Specifically, this report details many challenges with conversion and use of the facility. These include concerns with the remote location; staffing needs and workforce capacity; limitations on the number of individuals who could be served at the facility; providing defendants access to counsel and court proceedings; and the high capital and operational costs of the program.
It is worth highlighting that the Commonwealth has made significant progress the past two years in supporting the use of evidence based programs and practices as it develops plans to expand access to community-based behavioral health services and improve the care provided to individuals in local and regional jails. Providing resources to renovate and operate Peumansend Creek will divert potential funding needed to continue to support the community services that help individuals with behavioral health disorders manage symptoms and avoid inpatient admissions to state hospitals or interactions with the criminal justice system. Funding for the care and treatment of individuals in local and regional jails will also suffer if more resources are provided to Peumansend Creek. Additionally, there is not a body of research or evidence demonstrating that such a program would improve outcomes for the individuals being served.