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Sedgwick County commissioners say they want to move forward with plans for a mental health pod in the county jail. The pod would allow inmates with mental health problems to be housed separately from inmates in the general jail population.
During a discussion Wednesday on criminal justice programs, commissioner Jim Skelton said the pod would reduce the legal liability of the jail. He said the county owes it to the next sheriff to provide the proper facilities.
Commissioner Karl Peterjohn raised concerns about funding in the budget for a Heartland Preparedness Center that is under construction in north Wichita. He felt the mental health pod was a higher priority.
Skelton and commissioner Dave Unruh pointed out that a commission vote three years ago rejected a federal grant that would have provided start-up funding for the pod. Unruh said the county lost that opportunity, but that doesn't eliminate the need for the pod and the county should do what it can to move forward on the issue.
County Manager Bill Buchanan told commissioners that a subcommittee of the county's Criminal Justice Coordinating Council will be having discussions on a mental health pod for the jail.