Like many construction projects, supply chain issues have pushed back the opening of the new mental health wing of the Floyd County Jail.

But Floyd County Jail Administrator Maj. Allen Pledger said he’s hoping for an opening date of Feb. 1.

The new wing has been taking shape with new floors, fresh paint and even new doors and fixtures and will go a long way toward better serving inmates with mental health issues. The refurbished wing will allow for a 32-bed stepdown unit where inmates coming in off the street can be assessed and housed, as well as units for less severe mental health cases.

There will be a special unit for inmates with severe mental health issues and a unit for female inmates with each cell having individual showers.

Pledger said the new setup will allow safer and better care for inmates with mental health issues and will accommodate classes and programs to help those inmates.

Jenn Cronan oversees the Floyd Re-Entry Education and Discharge Program at the jail. Its mission is to increase public safety and reduce recidivism by providing positive opportunities to transition offenders from jail to the community.

She’s thankful for the new mental health wing.

“I’m really excited to get a dedicated area for the FREED program,” she said. “It will be a much more comfortable space, and a place where we can get these inmates thinking about release and a life that’s free of crime and drugs.”

She said when COVID restrictions allow, the new wing will have room for bringing in churches and recovery organizations to help address inmates’ needs.

The renovation of blocks W9 and W10 were originally hoped to be finished by late 2021, but have been pushed back to the availability of items like air-conditioning unit parts and phones for the cellblocks.

The influx of large numbers of people with mental health needs at the jail has been a longstanding issue 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 in 2020.

The current project nearing completion is a separate mental health unit. 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.

Block W7 will serve as a community space where they’ll hold both group and one-on-one therapy sessions.

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