State grant to help provide mental health, substance abuse services in Madison County


JACKSON, Tenn. — The Madison County Jail expansion project is one step closer to being complete.

The Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services awarded the $3.1 million grant Friday to Madison County leaders to help build a new facility for inmates.

“The facility we are trying to build is state of the art, but we’re preparing for the future,” Madison County Sheriff John Mehr said.

The money is intended to help inmates who may suffer from a mental health issue or substance abuse.

Sheriff Mehr says about 40 percent of those incarcerated in Madison County suffer from some kind of disorder related to substance abuse.

“So many come in and have a mental illness,” he said. “You can’t just take them and throw them in with other inmates.”

Pathways,  Aspell Recovery and other groups will have licensed counselors in the jail to help the inmates.

Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Commissioner Marie Williams says the facility will have a huge impact.

“Anybody that has a mental health issue and really is trying to seek help, this is what this program will do,” Williams said. “It will address those needs.”

Sheriff Mehr says the program will not only help those with these kinds of disorders but also will ensure they don’t end up back in jail.

“If you don’t give them treatment, they’re just going to return,” he said. “This is an initiative across the state, and we are just proud to be one of the recipients of this.”

Sheriff Mehr said inmates charged with felonies will not be eligible for the program. He also says construction on the project is set to begin early next year.

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