FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 23, 2014
CONTACT: Peter Van Delft
Suffolk County Sheriff Steven W. Tompkins recently sat before members of the Board of Directors for the Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) to present information about the Department’s addiction recovery and mental health programming, and also to discuss the need for more mental health care and recovery programs beyond the walls of the institution.
Speaking before an MAMH board comprised of a membership that “cuts across political parties, and includes representatives from the business, government, health, finance, legal and educational professions, including family members and consumers united in the desire to promote dignity, independence and community based services for people with mental illnesses and their families,” Sheriff Tompkins provided a sobering snapshot of the population that exists within the Suffolk County House of Correction and Nashua Street Jail.
“In Suffolk County, 85% of the inmates in our custody are committed for drug and alcohol related offenses,” said Sheriff Tompkins. “Approximately 42% of Suffolk County inmates present with some form of mental illness that ranges from mild personality disorder to major mental illness. Of that number, approximately 26% suffer from a major mental illness. The percentage of mental illness diagnosed in female inmates is approximately 36% higher than in male inmates, and many males and females in our care have co–occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders.”
Expounding on the Department’s efforts to mitigate the challenges posed by this chronically underserved community, Sheriff Tompkins spoke about the correlation between limited programs externally and the size of the population internally.
“We do our best with the limited resources that we have available to try and manage the complexities of a corrections profession overburdened with people in need who would be best served outside in the community than behind the walls of our institutions,” said Sheriff Tompkins.
“This isn’t to say that none of these individuals belong with us,” he continued. “But, there are far too many people locked inside our facilities who might never have found their way to us if they had been enrolled in comprehensive addiction rehabilitation services in the community, or if they were being properly cared for with appropriate psychiatric services or even, in some cases, merely being prescribed the proper medication.”
The Massachusetts Association for Mental Health (MAMH) is a private, non–profit tax–exempt Massachusetts corporation based in Boston, MA and a leading voice for the creation of services for people with mental illnesses. MAMH works with individuals with mental illness and their family members or friends to help them access services, whether housing, treatment, education, employment, or health insurance. Our referrals come from the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, as well as from our network of supporters.
To learn more about the MAMH, visit: www.mamh.org.