Tenn. Trys New Approach to Inmate Mental Health and Substance Abuse

Jul 23, 2013

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (AP/WMOT)  --  The State of Tennessee is preparing to open the first of nine recovery courts to combat mental health and substance abuse issues.

The new court will be a unique residential facility with 100 beds. The state says it’s the first of its kind in the nation and is designed to provide intensive care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, year round.

The special court will be operated by the State Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. It’s set to open August 1 in Wartburg, Tennessee, 45 miles west of Knoxville.

Department spokesman Michael Rabkin says the state is seeing a new type of inmate, requiring a new type of response.

“People who’ve had multiple issues – its called co-occurring disorders – for people who’ve had mental health issues and substance abuse issues at the same time; whether they’re self-medicating to treat their mental health issues, along with a number of veterans issues – PTSD and the like.”

Rabkin says the new court will not only get inmates with special needs the treatment they need, but will also free up prison cells for more dangerous criminals.