NAMI announces opposition to proposed new Jackson Co. jail tax

JACKSON CO., Ore. — The local chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, is officially opposing a tax for a new Jackson County jail.

NAMI says while they’re not against building a new jail, locking more people up won’t solve the problem. It says a new 800-bed jail is not where we should be putting our money. It says putting people behind bars to give them mental health services is not the way to go, but rather partner it with mental health services or pre-arrest diversion programs.

“If we can hold them longer, we can get them mental health services. We feel like that’s really a step backwards from what NAMI is trying to do. We are trying to decriminalize mental illness,” Meesha Blair, NAMI, said.

Sheriff Nathan Sickler says out of roughly 13,000 bookings per year about 60 get taken to the Oregon State Hospital for mental illness. He says the jail has been overcrowded for more than thirty years.

“Health Authority and they were talking about high risk offenders need more than just mental health and addiction services they need intensive supervision,” Sheriff Sickler said.

If the proposal is approved by county commissioners, then voters will see the proposal on the May ballot.

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