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Inmate mental health costs decreasing; Sullivan officials targeting costs

By Fritz Mayer
April 17, 2013

So far this year, the amount of criminal inpatient costs in Sullivan County is $0. In recent years, the cost has fluctuated a great deal, and soared to more than $500,000 in 2011.

Criminal inpatient costs are created when a judge orders a person be committed to a psychiatric facility for observation or treatment until they are returned to the Sullivan County jail, or are judged to be competent to stand trial. If a person who is suspected of committing a crime is judged unfit to stand trial, he or she remains in the facility and the county must pay 50% of the cost involved, which can run to as much as $10,000 a month.

The appropriation to cover the cost for 2013 is $100,000, but so far no one has been placed in a facility.

At a meeting of the legislature’s Planning and Budget Committee at the government center on April 11, legislator Cora Edwards, who is chair of the Public Safety Committee, noted that inpatient costs have been significantly reduced over the past two years. She credited this to a coordinated effort by district attorney Jim Farrell, acting county manager Josh Potosek, community services director Joe Todora and jail administrator Hal Smith, who have been working to see that inmates are not unnecessarily sent to Central New York Psychiatric Center in Marcy.

Edwards said, “I want to recognize the efforts of all involved in bringing these costs down. We still have a way to go to bring the costs to their lowest levels and, hopefully, we will get there with everyone working together.”