Program approved to help Spartanburg jail inmates receive better - FOX Carolina 21

Program approved to help Spartanburg jail inmates receive better mental health treatment

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Improvements to SC's mental health care within jails could come through new program (FOX Carolina) Improvements to SC's mental health care within jails could come through new program (FOX Carolina)
SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) -

More than 18 percent of inmates in Spartanburg County Detention Center suffer from mental illness, according to Kathy White, medical administrator for the jail. 

"Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, schizo-effective disorder, those are the ones that really require a lot of effort," she said. 

With about 800 inmates to supervise, Major Neal Urch, director of the jail, says getting them care is difficult. 

"Not having a background to deal with those individuals is prohibiting us from getting their proper care," he said. 

David Boggs, 19, is an inmate at SCDC. He said he has always dealt with mental illness in his own life. 

"Depression, anxiety, abuse, neglect," he recalled. "I became a cutter ... started cutting myself ..."

Last year he was charged with murder in the shooting death of Eddie Richards.

Still in the pre-trial phase of his incarceration, he's responsible for the costs of his care. 

"I see a counselor every Monday," said Boggs. 

But some can't afford care, leaving the jail between a rock and a hard place.  Earlier this week Spartanburg County Council approved a resolution to offer help.

The Stepping Up program aims to provide more counselors, more resources and more help to jail staff.to address inmate mental health needs duringand after incarceration. 

"Some of the area that we are lacking in is helping them upon release," said White, "Linking them to care and services."

Urch hopes better care within jail walls will lead to better care on the outside, and will diminish inmate population and recidivism. 

"I'm not excusing what a person may have done with an illness," said Urch. "But is jail the place they should be at? Should they not be somewhere where they are being treated for that illness and then still held accountable for what they have done?"

Currently, Spartanburg County joins only Fairfield and Orangeburg Counties in the Stepping Up program, a national initiative. 

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