Governor's budget funds $24.5 million in mental health improvements in N.C. prisons | News
News
INDY Week's news blog

Archives | RSS

Monday, March 9, 2015

Governor's budget funds $24.5 million in mental health improvements in N.C. prisons

Posted by on Mon, Mar 9, 2015 at 2:59 PM

In the days to come, expect detractors on both sides when it comes to Gov. Pat McCrory's proposed budget, which he announced last week. But as far as mental health care in North Carolina prisons, a system McCrory called a "broken culture" last year, the governor appears willing to spend on reforms.

Over the next two years, the governor's spending plan allocates $17.8 million for improved mental health services in the state's prisons, including the creation of "therapy halls" in eight high security prisons where mentally ill inmates would be regularly monitored and treated.

McCrory also proposes spending another $6.6 million over two years to fully staff the mental health unit at Central Prison, the state prison system's primary mental health facility for male inmates. For those seeking improvement in the prison system's mental health services, staffing shortfalls are a common complaint. McCrory's plan would add 66 new positions at the prison.

McCrory's budget plan funds prison reforms announced after the Indy reported the death of inmate Michael Kerr last year. Kerr, who had been suffering from a mental illness, died of dehydration after spending more than a month in solitary confinement at a prison in Taylorsville.

Prison leaders have announced two dozen reforms after Kerr's death, including new management teams, crisis training for officers and prison staff, and the formation of an ongoing task force of mental health and prison leaders debating a policy on the use of solitary confinement on prisoners with a mental illness.

McCrory would also budget $20.7 million in the second year of the biennial budget in order to give raises to nearly 10,000 correctional officers in the state, although the governor's appropriation falls far short of the $55 million the N.C. Department of Public Safety requested for officer raises.

Nevertheless, DPS Secretary Frank Perry—a McCrory appointee—said he was "appreciative" of the governor's plan in a statement Monday. Two weeks ago, Perry told the Indy that officer pay would be key to the system's reform, indicating that he believed higher pay would allow the system to recruit better officers and keep morale high.

"It lifts the entire ship," Perry said. "We're being paid more, so more is expected."

Jack Register, executive director of the N.C. chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said he was "optimistic" following the governor's proposed budget.

However, Register pointed out that several mental health initiatives budgeted by the governor, including expanded care for children and adolescents, would be contingent this year on the tenuous proceeds from the state's sale of the Dorothea Dix property to the city of Raleigh.

Of course, McCrory's budget will now be debated and, in all likelihood, altered by Republican leadership in the N.C. General Assembly. The governor and lawmakers have differed on spending policies in the past.

Tags: , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in News



Twitter Activity

Comments

I should also add that it was professor Daniel Sherman who penned the letter that we all signed after some …

by elin o'Hara slavick on UNC Faculty Members Call for the Removal of Silent Sam (News)

The anthropology department had posted a similarly strong letter previous to ours. The progressive faculty network also signed a similar …

by elin o'Hara slavick on UNC Faculty Members Call for the Removal of Silent Sam (News)

Most Recent Comments

I should also add that it was professor Daniel Sherman who penned the letter that we all signed after some …

by elin o'Hara slavick on UNC Faculty Members Call for the Removal of Silent Sam (News)

The anthropology department had posted a similarly strong letter previous to ours. The progressive faculty network also signed a similar …

by elin o'Hara slavick on UNC Faculty Members Call for the Removal of Silent Sam (News)

Hello my brothers and sisters,do you want to become a member of the great Illuminati brotherhood,so you can be rich

by Helen Paul on Local Businesses Band Together to Support Houstonians Reeling from Harvey (News)

I take anything I read in the INDY with a grain of salt, especially regarding alleged views on the police …

by MJKopechne on Durham Candidates Talk Gentrification, Policing, and Civil Rights at People's Forum (News)

Great idea! Especially involving young people. What has been done since? …

by Martha C. Brock on Parks Guru: Ideas for Dix Should Arise on Site, Not Be Manufactured in Traditional Political Settings (News)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation