By Stephanie Malench
After much heated discussion, The Madison County Board voted on September 15 to postpone for 60 days a resolution supporting “Stepping Up”, a National Initiative to reduce the number of people with mental illnesses in jail. This will put the issue before the board after the November 3 election.
According to the website, stepuptogether.org, people with serious mental illnesses are admitted to jails across the nation two million times each year, 75% of which have drug and alcohol use problems.
Inmates with mental health issues cost two to three times more to house than inmates who do not have mental illnesses. Additionally, these individuals do not receive the help that they need.
Michael “Doc” Holiday, the chair of the County Institutions Committee presented the resolution to the full board after it successfully passed the committee. Holiday emphasized that pandemic has disproportionately effected those with mental illnesses, and the resolution has been in committee for months. The resolution had previously been offered by Holiday to the Judiciary Committee for discussion, which did not move it forward.
Michael Walters (R-Godfrey) made the initial motion to table the resolution and Ray Wesley (R- Alton) seconded the motion. Both men as well as numerous board members from both parties agreed this is a needed program, but cited the uncertainties of what the plan entailed, including benchmarks for the program’s succes, the number of inmates who would be eligible, and specifics of what it would cost to operate the program.
In other board news, Phillip White and LaSonya Stiff were both reappointed to new five year terms on the Madison County Housing Authority Board.
A resolution was passed rezoning one acre of land owned by Jerry Don and Mary Smith from Agricultural to planned Business District for a garage door business at 9538 US Highway 40.