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Montana counties to receive funding for mental health treatment in jails



Montana – Seven counties in Montana will receive money from the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services to help fund mental health services in their local jails.

“It’s great to be with you as we announce another critical investment in Montana’s behavioral health,” said Charlie Brereton, director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services.

The Heart Fund, a program that distributes $25 million annually to fund substance misuse prevention and treatment initiatives, will be used to distribute grants for the anticipated services.

In the seven selected counties, one of which is Silver Bow County, a total of $2.7 million will be allocated for the construction of detention facilities.

There are now 121 prisoners housed in the Butte-Silver Bow correctional facility. Sheriff Ed Lester claims that prisoners will now have the chance to address the reasons behind their incarceration.

“If they can realize what the cause of that is, whether it’s substance abuse or mental health issues, they can deal with those things and then not be able to return to our detention center which in my mind is a key factor because of the overcrowding situation we face,” said Lester.

The programs will be implemented in Butte-Silver Bow in the areas of education and prevention, harm reduction tools for law enforcement, and addiction and mental health challenges, according to Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher.”We know that there are many problems that we have that are based around substance abuse and mental health issues which includes homelessness,” said Gallagher.

Lester estimates that 90% of those detained in Butte-Silver Bow have mental health or substance addiction concerns based on his experience.”Hopefully, we’ll be able to report good results relatively quickly and we’ll see the crime rate and the recidivism rate going down and our jail populations going down and seeing some of these folks be successful after their release,” said Lester.

Grants were also given to Yellowstone, Missoula, Lewis and Clark, Gallatin, Cascade, and Custer counties to provide behavioral health services for persons who are incarcerated.