Letter: Scrutinize jail policy for solutions

Published:

 

It is sadly obvious that mentally ill human beings do not belong in the Clark County Jail. Mentally ill people are human beings and should be treated with dignity and respect. Time and again, during the last year, The Columbian and its reporters have courageously and admirably covered the multitude of several suicides and numerous suicide attempts at the county jail. Some have occurred very soon after the person was placed in the jail. This no doubt means there is a need for a more thorough screening at admission.

In recent years, the number of beds has been significantly decreased at both the jail and the Larch facility because of budgetary pressures. The jail staff is overwhelmed by the sheer number of mentally ill human beings sent its way.

Where are our Clark County commissioners in all this tragic scenario? I attended their Aug. 15 workshop, at which the sheriff and his jail staff put forth a very specific plan for improving the jail environment and making it safer. However, this takes time. Meanwhile, it appears our commissioners are too busy with other matters, including re-election, to make any significant decisions to alleviate this tragedy unfolding before our eyes with each passing day.

—Don Greenwood, Hazel Dell