Mental health care expands at Tuscaloosa Co. Jail

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 11:30 AM CST
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TUSCALOOSA COUNTY, Ala. (WBRC) - Mental health services are expanding at the Tuscaloosa County Jail. Sheriff Ron Abernathy told WBRC there are growing mental health concerns among inmates that need to be addressed.

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The Tuscaloosa County Commission approved a $150,000 contract extension with Capstone Health Services. A psychiatrist will now be at the jail two days a week instead of once a week. They’ll also be on call 24/7.

Sheriff Abernathy says nearly a third of the 200 or so inmates there are on psychotropic drugs and require psychiatric care. This comes as the jail prepares for a major expansion project. A lot across the street from the jail was recently cleared to make way for a temporary housing unit. Some prisoners will be housed there ahead of renovations that will include a new behavioral health and medical unit at the jail.

“What our commission has allowed us to do is bring in additional resources from a psychiatrist standpoint. So, we’ll have a psychiatrist in the facility twice a week, a psychiatric nurse practitioner in the facility twice a week, along with social workers. So it will dramatically enhance our capability,” Sheriff Abernathy explained.

The construction phase of the new addition to the Tuscaloosa County Jail is expected to take two years to complete once it starts.

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