YORKVILLE — The Racine County government is looking to spend more than $380,000 before the end of the year to create 12 positions to support people in crisis.
One post would support those facing violence, while the other 11 would support those experiencing mental health crises.
Improving mental health services has long been at the heart of Racine County Executive Jonathan Delagrave’s platform since he was first elected in 2015. These proposals could be the next big step in that regard.
The agenda for a special joint meeting of two county committees, scheduled for Wednesday July 6, was released on Friday.
The agenda is led by a request for a $79,727 allocation for a new “violent crime reduction coordinator” through a “new project for Voices of Black Mothers.”
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Voices of Black Mothers United is a national non-profit organization locally run by relatives of people who have died as a result of gun violence. The group works hand in hand with local governments and law enforcement to combat violence in the Racine region.
Racine County is also looking to increase staff for its SAIL program. According to the county, “SAIL is a short-term crisis stabilization center for adult Racine County residents experiencing a mental health crisis. SAIL operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. SAIL offers 13 beds available to residents of the community. While at SAIL, individuals will be closely monitored for their safety and connected to resources to deal with their mental health crises. This service is free for residents of Racine County.
Wednesday’s meeting agenda includes the creation of several new positions:
- Four community service providers.
- A community services supervisor.
- Five crisis professionals.
- A crisis supervisor.
- For those 11 positions, the county is seeking to allocate $304,219.
A Racine man, Malcolm James, died June 1, 2021 in the Racine County Jail after being arrested four days prior while going through a mental health crisis; James had called 911 after setting fire to his own apartment. James had been taken to Ascension All Saints Hospital twice due to his seizure, but was sent back to prison after each hospital visit.
He stopped breathing when, after officers entered his cell because he had hit his head against the wall and tasered him, several officers leaned their weight on James as other officers tried to remove the Taser pins from his back. No charges have been filed for the death.
For people in mental health crisis, there is often no place to go. That’s why they end up in jail so often, more often than they get real long-term help.
The Racine County Sheriff’s Office questioned the medical examiner’s finding of asphyxia, writing in a statement that the medical examiner’s conclusion was not based on “physical signs” but only on an “examination of the video”, taken from the officers’ body cameras. who put James in the restraint chair. Outside experts brought in by the Racine County prosecutor’s office, including one linked to a network of known pro-police witnesses, disputed the medical examiner’s conclusion and instead blamed the death on a possible heart attack related to weight and limbs. James’ heart problems.
The situation has drawn greater attention to the few remaining mental health beds in the United States, resulting in many (if not most) people in the throes of mental health crises who come into contact with the police. end up in prison rather than receiving treatment.
Policy experts who weighed in on the case said James’ case highlights the need for the United States to invest more in mental health facilities, rather than incarceration facilities.
“It’s a common fact that incarceration exacerbates mental illness,” Elizabeth Sinclair Hancq, research director at the Virginia-based Treatment Advocacy Center, told The Journal Times last year.
Friday vigil in remembrance of Malcolm James, one of 2 men who died in the Racine County Jail, in photos