Carteret County Sheriff weighs in on the mental health budget aimed to tackle mental illness in prisons

BEAUFORT, N.C. (WNCT) – Governor McCrory is focused on tackling mental illness in our state. He says it’s one of the biggest health problems our state faces.

WNCT takes a look at those issues and what’s being done to fix it.

Approximately 30 inmates at the Carteret County Detention Center need mental health care, and with the new state budget and the governor’s mental health task force underway, their goal is to alleviate the stigma attached to mental illness throughout the state.

Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck is on Governor McCrory’s mental health task force. The group is looking at mental health care in order to have an effective and efficient prison system.

Millions of dollars in the state budget will go towards mental health in the prison system, something Sheriff Buck says is crucial.

“There are so few beds across the state that we have to transport people all across the state, we have to take people all the way to the western part of the state just to put them in a mental health bed and people in the western part of the state have the same problem,” said Sheriff Buck.

At the Carteret County Detention Center, they have beds for up to 118 people. Today’s head count, 145.

The detention center nurse says the high number of inmates with mental health needs is a cycle that never ends.

“We’ll put them on their meds here and they’ll be stable and fine, they’ll get out, be off their meds, end up coming back in being combative, all kinds of stuff,” said Sarah Pardue.

Sheriff Buck says getting these inmates the help they need is a work in progress that everyone must acknowledge.

“Having the ability of the beds so we can give those people those services as quickly as possible,” said Buck. “Nobody should be treated like that, no body should have to wait two weeks to find a bed to get anywhere, for any problem.”

Eight other prisons will get money to establish treatment units over the next two years.

Sheriff Buck says the task force will meet again on October 29th. Working committees will then begin making recommendations to improve the mental health system in North Carolina.

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