RD16 - 2018 Mental Illness in Jails Report – November 1, 2018
In the month of June, 2018 the Commonwealth of Virginia supported 59 local and regional jails and jail farms. Of this number there are 24 county jails, 12 city jails, 22 regional jails and 1 jail farm. City and county jails are operated under the authority of the sheriff in that locality. The jail farm is operated under the authority of the locality it serves by an appointed superintendent. Regional jails are operated under the authority of a regional jail board or authority consisting of at least the sheriff and one other representative from each participating jurisdiction.
A survey to identify mental illness in Virginia jails was initially developed by staff of the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services (DBHDS), staff of the Senate Finance Committee, and staff of the Compensation Board. The Compensation Board distributed a mental health survey in June 2018 for completion by local and regional jails. With the support of the Virginia Sheriffs’ Association and the Virginia Association of Regional Jails, the Compensation Board received surveys from 57 out of 59 local and regional jails, excluding Alleghany County Jail, and Sussex County Jail. The data in this report is as provided to the Compensation Board by local and regional jails in their 2018 mental health surveys, submitted as of August 15, 2018.
The goal of the survey is to provide information regarding the incidence of mental illness among individuals incarcerated in Virginia jails, characteristics of this population and methods by which jails seek to manage mental illness within their facility. Survey questions directed jail personnel to report data for the month of June 2018, with the exception of treatment expenditures which were reported for the entire fiscal year (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018).
Significant changes to the survey instrument this year include the removal of questions regarding screening of inmates who are held simply on a drunk in public or simple possession charge. These questions are no longer relevant as jails are now required to screen all inmates upon confinement. The updated survey instrument also includes the addition of questions that identify: 1) number of mentally ill inmates that were “state responsible" and with a term of incarceration of 2 years or less; 2) whether or not there is a prioritization for conducting a more comprehensive mental health assessment, and if so the criteria for prioritization; 3) whether inmates who exhibit signs of acute crisis in screening receive a more comprehensive mental health assessment within 72 hours of that screening; 4) average time period between comprehensive assessment and review/diagnosis by a licensed professional, should it be determined necessary; and 5) number of inmates dispensed psychotropic medications. Although the report includes statistics on the average daily population of federal and out of state inmates housed in jail this year, the data regarding inmates with mental illness is reflective only of local and state responsible inmates housed in local and regional jails.