New Behavioral Health Unit will reduce number of inmates in jail

Dr. Kevin Downey of Crosspoint Inc. gives Erin Nichols a tour of the unit.

SAN ANTONIO -- On any given day there are hundreds of people suffering from a mental illness or a substance abuse disorder sitting in the Bexar County Jail.

But one nonprofit on the east side is working to reduce that number and help fix a problem that is not only costly to taxpayers, but also the community.

In just about a month, construction on Behavioral Health Diversion Unit inside Crosspoint Incorporated will be finished.

There will be beds for 35 men and women and counseling, job training, and medical services.

It's a partnership between the city, county, and Crosspoint to prevent the mentally ill and substance abusers who have committed nonviolent crimes from going back to jail.

“Those individuals who are held in jail only because they have mental health or substance abuse disorder and they know they will not return for trial so they hold them,” said Crosspoint President and CEO Kevin Downey.

Instead of sending these people to jail, they'll be screened first by San Antonio Police Officers and Bexar County Sheriff's deputies.

“If they fall in the right areas they can be diverted in the spot so they'll just be picked up and brought to Crosspoint,” said Downey.

It costs about $50 a day to house an inmate at the jail, but it can cost anywhere between $60 and $250 to house a mentally ill inmate.

Crosspoint says they can do it for less than $100 a day.

“The real savings to me is if you get a person on the right track where they get the treatment they need, reconnect them with family, and get them a job, then we are going to spend less down the road because they're going to be supporting themselves.”

To learn more about Crosspoint, go here.

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