The new mental health wing of the Floyd County Jail should be in operation sometime in mid-August, as construction workers finish renovating Blocks W9 and W10.
“Construction should be complete in July, but we have a few housekeeping things we need to work on before we open it,” said Maj. Allen Pledger of the Floyd County Sheriff’s Office.
The influx of large numbers of people with mental health needs at the jail has been a longstanding concern over the last 10 years, since the closing of Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital in 2011.
To address the issue, voters approved a $5.2 million earmark in the 2017 special purpose, local option sales tax package. As part of that and other SPLOST funding, the sheriff’s office has been able to completely renovate the jail medical wing, which opened this past year.
A separate mental health unit is part of the overall project.
Pledger, who serves as the jail administrator, said they’re renovating the cell blocks as they wait for beds and furniture to come in.
“We’ll have to touch up some paint in the hallways and cut a door across the hall from medical, so medical will have easy access to the blocks if need be,” he said.
Block W10 will house inmates with severe mental health issues, with six beds for women and six beds for men. Block W9 will house less severe cases, with 15 beds for men and 15 beds for women.
Inmates who come off the streets high or intoxicated will be put in Block W8, where they can be monitored as they recover.
“We’ll give them a couple days to come down and see if they exhibit any signs that there are medical needs to be aware of,” Pledger said.
Around eight bunks, 16 beds total, will be installed in the block for men only. However, Pledger said they might expand and change parts of W9 into a similar area if they get a large influx of women.
Block W7 will serve as a community space where they’ll hold both group and one-on-one therapy sessions.
Local organizations, such as the Rome chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Health, will be working closely with the jail staff and assisting in the therapy sessions.
“That’s on track to start in August,” Pledger said.
The jail will also be incorporating their FREED program, or Floyd Re-Entry Education and Discharge. Offender Unit Manager Jen Cronan previously said they’re working on a mental health discharge planner to work with each inmate to make sure they’re set to restart their lives.
Pledger and Sheriff Dave Roberson said they’re open to any organization, such as local Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous chapters, that would like to come in and work with the mental health unit.
If interested in volunteering with the jail’s mental health programs, you can call the jail at 706-291-4111 ext. 8814.