New tech may speed parole for inmates

There are inmates in the Warren County Jail ready for parole but need a psychiatric evaluation before they can go.

And that process takes far longer – potentially three to six months – than county officials think it should.

Enter tele-psych – the ability to complete an evaluation over the internet with a psychiatrist specifically licensed to practice in this forum.

The county has “what I think are unacceptable wait times for psych evals,” Commissioner Jeff Eggleston said at Tuesday’s Prison Board meeting.

He noted that the delay can affect sentencing as well as the treatment an inmate can receive.

“There’s a possibility of having a lot of positive financial effects of having more psych services,” he added. “This is something I would like to do.”

He proposed a sub-committee of the board to work on implementing this service.

“I think it’s very noble,” Commissioner Ben Kafferlin said, indicating he would support it.

“I want to see it soon,” Warden Jon Collins said.

“Everything stems from the psych evals,” Rusty Barr, deputy warden, added. “They take forever.”

Collins described the timing as “very poor at best right now…. If you’re number 10 on that list, it’s going to take a long time.”

He suggested it “would pay for itself the first couple months.”

“We’ve been talking with Beacon Light and Deerfield and other agencies as well that feel like this is very doable,” Eggleston said. “The equipment and everything is very minimal.”

“It would be so helpful to all the inmates,” Barr added.

Another benefit Eggleston outlined is that inmates would be able to get into treatment sooner.

He said there is an issue for some where the evaluation is needed before they can take any medications while incarcerated, even if they were taking the medications before.

“It can become a situation where you’re detoxing somebody… unnecessarily,” he said. “We would contract with through DHS (Department of Human Services) with one of our providers. They have access to all the remote psychiatrists that have the license to do tele-psych.”

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