Wapello County supervisors consider jail diversion program

A discussion on jail diversion topped the agenda at Tuesday's Board of Supervisors meeting.

The Wapello County Board of Supervisors is considering a program to separate mental health treatment from incarceration.

Discussion on a potential Jail Diversion program was on the agenda at Tuesday's meeting. Jail Diversion would remove the population of inmates that would be better suited in a mental health system. It would also provide treatment to others while in jail and after they're released.

This program fulfills the purpose of the mental health redesign in Iowa, which is to give rural areas the services available in urban areas. A Jail Diversion program has been in existence in Johnson County for several years.

Supervisor Steve Siegel said the program is a positive result of the redesign; as long as there is money to fund it.

"It's all contingent upon funding. Right now we have the money because we had a healthy fund balance going into mental health redesign," he said. "Two years down the road, not so much. And some of the moves the legislature has made recently tend to make us think we might not have the money. We'll start these programs and then we might not have the money to continue them. That would be bad."

The supervisors will next meet with Jessica Peckover, from Johnson County, over the next several weeks while all the key players involved are brought into the discussion.

Siegel said the board would look at hiring two people for their Wapello, Appanoose and Davis County region. Those two employees would provide not only direct services, but also training to jail personnel.