Grant would aid in jail-to-community transition

By Dean Wright -

GALLIPOLIS — The Gallia-Jackson-Meigs Board of Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services is seeking a grant through state initiatives to aid in providing better services to its area of influence.

According to Ron Adkins, executive director of GJM BADAMHS, the organization and its Ohio Mental Health Services providers are moving “to adhere to the principles of the ‘Stepping Up’ initiative in each of our three counties and building on the strong collaboration that currently exists between law enforcement and the behavioral health care network.”

The “Stepping Up Initiative” is a national attempt to lower the number of individuals with mental illnesses in jails. Adkins approached Gallia County Commissioners on Thursday to persuade them to join the cause.

“We were (previously) awarded a grant to provide services in the Gallia and Meigs catchment area for $125,000 (to better provide behavioral counseling services in jails),” Adkins said. “With this new grant, it’s about a criminal justice and behavioral health linkage jail services initiative. We’re looking at bringing a comparable level of mental health care to Jackson County jail. In addition to the jail services, we’re looking at things like housing and housing assistance. We’re hoping to do some linkage with vocational and educational training. That could include things like GED programs.”

According to Adkins, the grant would help Gallia and Meigs jails with educational and housing linkage opportunities, whereas it would also help with counseling efforts in Jackson County jails. The executive director describes linkage opportunities as similar to networking opportunities.

“For example, if you’re unemployed and looking for a job (after being discharged from jail), we would refer you to Job and Family Services to see what they might be able to do. That’s not our specialty. We’re not finding you a job, but we aim to help direct you to the right resources and where they are,” Adkins said.

According to a rough draft of the grant request, “it is the intent of this request to fill that unmet need in Jackson County and expand other supportive services and training to law enforcement and agency staff in all three counties.”

“The first phase jail services is specific to Jackson. The housing, employment, referral and training we’re going to expand to all three counties: Gallia, Jackson and Meigs,” Adkins said.

Adkins said the new grant was aiming to gathering $150,000 in new grant funds. The funds hope to further treat individuals in jail to help them transition back into the community upon their release.

Dean Wright can be reached at (740) 446-2342, Ext. 2103.

By Dean Wright