New $650,000 grant to help provide mental health, drug abuse treatment for those released from jail

People dealing with mental health and drug abuse issues may finally get some of the help they need.

A new $650,000 grant will help fund three years of additional staffing and services for inmates at the La Crosse County Jail.

“We are seeing a revolving door through our jail right now,” said Mandy Bisek, manager of La Crosse County Justice Support Services.

Justice Support Services officials are seeing a negative trend with people who are incarcerated.

“I see this need, and it’s growing in our community,” said Christin Skolnik, assistant manager of Integrated Support and Recovery Services.

Bisek said the grant will help with the need for services to help individuals who have both mental health and drug abuse problems.

“I think there is a real struggle, a deep struggle, for a lot of the clients that we serve,” Bisek said.

She said many of those entering the jail are on a detox protocol.

“About 38 percent have some sort of psychotropic medication prescribed to them coming in and out of our jail,” Bisek said. “The grant will help get them reconnected and re-enter the community from the jail more successfully and meaningfully,” Bisek said.

Skolnik said the grant will allow the jail to work with Justice Support Services in new ways.

“We’re really excited about it,” Skolnik said.

Bisek said, despite having one full-time therapist at the jail, more services are required to make an impact.

“It’s just not enough,” Bisek said.

Skolnik said the new three-year funding will help them make sure people who are released don’t end up right back behind bars.

“People, again, aren’t walking out that door alone and perhaps responding to temptations or meeting up with old friends who may be a bad influence,” Skolnik said.

She said they will be able to hire a social worker to give every person a plan.

“What does the future look like? Do we need work on housing? Do we need to work on medical appointments? Those basic needs and then really following through that,” Skolnik said.

Bisek said the social worker will be the face of the program.

“Our social worker will be kind of that coordinator of those services, really understanding what the needs are of individuals in the jail and helping them connect in the community to those resources,” Bisek said.

She said it’s a start to fixing an unfortunate reality.

“It’s not just a criminal justice need. It’s our community coming together for those who are suffering in our community,” Bisek said.

County officials said the grant will serve a minimum of 150 people in the next three years.