Clay jail to add mental units

Steve Rogers
Staff Writer

Continued issues housing suspects with mental health issues is forcing the Clay County Sheriff’s Department to create two special cells.

Sheriff Eddie Scott is splitting a holding cell into one special cell for people on “suicide watch” and another for people with known or suspected mental health issues.

The suicide watch cell will have nothing but a cot. The other cell, which may be padded, will be more like a normal cell.
Both will have 24-hour video monitoring via their own separate surveillance systems.

The jail will be able to hold the people for up to 72 hours before they’ll have to be transferred somewhere else, Scott said.

The issue came up during the department’s recent state accreditation.

The issue was discussed extensively at the National Sheriff’s Association Conference in Washington D.C., and has been a recurring issue locally and across the state.

“We have nothing long-range to be able to safely take care of people with issues and we want to look out for their safety and protect the jail,” Scott told the Board of Supervisors in a meeting Friday afternoon.

“If we have someone now that is having a court hearing or doctor’s appointment in the afternoon and we pick them up in the morning, they have to sit in our conference room or somewhere and be watched. We can’t put them in the general population,” Scott explained.
The metal that will be needed to divide the holding cell will cost about $2,000.

The department already has video equipment for surveillance.

“I hate to give up the holding cell, but given all the options and the issues involved, this is the best use,” Scott stated