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Outpatient treatment program stops the revolving door for inmates

Prison cell, Photo Date: August 28, 2014 / Source: Pixabay via MGN
Prison cell, Photo Date: August 28, 2014 / Source: Pixabay via MGN
Published: Sep. 26, 2019 at 5:22 PM PDT
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At the Washoe County jail, inmates make their initial appearances in court via teleconference.

For some, this is not their first time in these proceedings.

They may have mental problems, or addiction problems which have them entering and exiting the jail and court system like a revolving door.

Some are patients who again enter and exit local emergency rooms.

While they receive acute treatment, chances are they will be back again.

Two years ago, an initiative called the “Assisted Outpatient Treatment Program” was set up to break this cycle.

“These individuals that have the revolving door to the jail, the revolving door to mental health hospitals, these are the individuals we are targeting for this program,” says Judge Cynthia Lu with the Second Judicial District Court Family Division.

Judge Lu says with the help of a grant, 75 patients have participated in this program.

The typical patient is between 21 and 49 years old.

They are given housing, social services, and they enter rehabilitation programs if needed.

They check in with Judge Lu on Sierra Street at the Mills B. Lane Justice Center to update her on progress.

She says they are safer, they find purpose--with some finding jobs, or volunteering at places like the Humane Society or the Reno Bike Project.

While that's encouraging for the individuals themselves, for our community as a whole, there's a cost savings that can't be ignored.

“It was well over a million dollars,” says Judge Lu.

Judge Lu points to a 61% decrease in hospital visits for these patients, and a 73% decrease in jail stays over a two year period.

All costs avoided she says, by simply focusing on the possibilities rather than the penalties.

Copyright KOLO-TV 2019