Northern Nevada HOPES, the nonprofit community health center in Reno, recently received grant funds to provide mental health services to Washoe County Sheriff’s Detention Center inmates.
“We used the grant funding to increase our capacity to provide services to medically fragile and high-risk individuals, specifically those transitioning out of jail that need outpatient medical and/or behavioral health services,” said Mary Ingvoldstad of HOPES.
Ingvoldstad said that inmates coming out of jail need specialized services.
“The dynamics of jail incarceration include short stays and frequent movement between jail and the community,” she explained. “These factors can be destabilizing for many and contribute to a higher risk of re-incarceration and decreased the ability to access primary health care.”
More than 150 incarcerated people were linked to care as part of the new program, and 77 individuals were transported from the Detention Facility to HOPES.
“A program participant stated that they have not had a primary care doctor in over 30 years, and after learning about the partnership and HOPES services, they decided they wanted to make their health a priority and get their life back on track,” Ingvoldstad added.
The jail came under fire for numerous deaths of inmates, as reported by Anjeanette Damon of the Reno Gazette-Journal. Sheriff Chuck Allen disputed Damon’s reporting, but a number of high-dollar settlements were made in the wake of inmate deaths.
Allen said that during his time as sheriff, he’s never seen a population as in need of mental health services as the inmates at the jail. The Washoe Board of County Commissioners now receives quarterly updates from the Sheriff’s Office as to the conditions at the jail.
“Improving the Detention Facility has been something that we have worked on continuously,” said Commissioner Bob Lucey. “We look forward to collaborating closely with the Sheriff-Elect after the first of the year and are hopeful we will continue to improve recidivism rates and work in alignment with our county departments, such as Alternative Sentencing and Courts. We are all dedicated to making sure these individuals get access to programs and opportunities for reform.”