Blue Earth County Launches Jail Diversion Project
The Blue Earth County Yellow Line Project is geared toward helping people with mental illnesses or chemical addictions.
"We learned that the pre-booking area of the jail was a really important place for that to happen. If there was a line at the door of the jail and if our mission was to do all that we can before a person crosses through that door into the jail or in effect crosses the yellow line that we would want to do that," Blue Earth County Business Of Operations, Angela Youngerberg said.
Hoping to divert from jail time, detox, or the hospital.
"The ones that can be diverted really have a lot to do with victimless crimes, people that haven't been harmed by what has happened and people that are motivated to change their life and they have to really have to start by convincing that officer," Blue Earth County Human Services Director, Phil Claussen said.
The project started two years ago.
But for the last year and a half they have been working in the research and development phase.
"We have placed a social worker in the jail as of June 1st of 2016 and she has helped hundreds of people past the yellow line and so we wanted to try and test some of our theories about what could have we done for these individuals if we were essentially ahead of the yellow line and in numerous cases we did find that there could have been alternatives that we could have posed," Youngerberg said.
With help from the Department of Human Services in the form of start-up money, they've reached the point where they are today.
"If by the end of the year we can prove we have saved money in detox or in mental health interventions I think that's where we will be able to sustain the project," Claussen said.
Leading them to their next step.. Proving their effectiveness.
"To make sure we have the details right, look for what we call blind spots to make sure we're not missing anything that could really end up having a negative consequence for the project and then sustainability is our next one," Claussen said.
The Yellow Line Project's plan is to have a social worker in pre-booking area beginning on April 3rd.
--KEYC News 12