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Snohomish County Rallies Around Inmates with Mental Illness

Frequent patrons of the Snohomish County Jail are also being found to make recurring stops through local mental hospitals and emergency rooms. Leaders and experts from these institutions are now gathering to share their experiences in an attempt to quell the recurrence of visits.

Astounding data found in a recent study shows that more than 90 percent of Snohomish County jail’s most prolific tenants exhibit high rates of mental illness or addiction—close to half of these people suffer from both.

Aside from trying to identify the best method of treatment for these individuals, county officials are realizing the shortcomings and vast spending associated with these revolving door patients.

Sheriff Ty Trenary, one of the officials spearheading this study states, “The data highlights a crisis in our community—that a disproportionate amount of public resources are used by a small number of high-need individuals. Bouncing the mentally ill, homeless and/or addicted from one service to another is an expensive way to treat the symptoms, but not an effective treatment for the root cause of their problems. Our community deserves better” (Herald Net, Better approach sought for inmates with addictions, mental illness).

This study suggests that en lieu of sending these groups to jail, where their cost of living and care then becomes the responsibility of county tax-payers, they should be evaluated and diverted to an institution that better suits their unique needs.

As part of the county’s efforts to improve the system, a remodel of the Carnegie building located next to the jail is being suggested as transitional housing that would include 20 beds for those with mental health and dependency issues, employment training as well as other services.

For more on this study and the current actions being taken by Snohomish County public safety and health institution officials, read the Herald Net’s full story