The Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services announced that it is awarding grants to seven Montana counties to support behavioral health services in local detention centers.
The grants for planned services will be distributed from the Heart Fund, a program that provides $25 million per year to fund substance abuse prevention and treatment programs.
A total of $2.7 million will be invested in detention centers in the seven chosen counties, including Yellowstone and Silver Bow counties.
Currently, there are 121 inmates in the Butte-Silver Bow detention center. Sheriff Ed Lester says people incarcerated will finally be getting an opportunity to start dealing with the causes of 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.
Chief Executive J.P. Gallagher spoke on how Butte-Silver Bow will be implementing the services into education and prevention, harm reduction tools for police, and addiction and mental health issues.
"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 says from his experience, he estimates 90% of people incarcerated in Butte-Silver Bow are experiencing mental issues or substance abuse issues.
"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.
Yellowstone County, Missoula County, Lewis and Clark County, Gallatin County, Cascade County, and Custer County were also awarded grants to support behavioral health services for those incarcerated.