A committee formed by the Missouri Association of Counties is working to find solutions to help get mentally ill people treatment, rather than incarceration. Buchanan County Sheriff Bill Puett, a member of that committee, said on any given day Missouri jails could be holding 190 to 200 mentally ill inmates as they wait for beds in mental health center.

“Oftentimes those individuals sit between eight to 12 months and the issue with that is the, you know, staffing and jails are not designed, or do they have the resources, to deal with individuals and mental health crisis,” he said.

Puett said the committee strives to find ways to help get these inmates proper care that county jails aren’t equipped to provide.

“Because it is not just a jail issue it is a community issue and a jail issue combined, and we want to make sure that we’re trying to get  these folks where they need to be,” according to Puett. “A lot of staff in jails and even prisons are not trained with psychiatric training. You know, obviously, that’s not their forte or their business.”

Puett says trying to deal with people in crisis and not having the proper training is a big reason why it’s important to get these inmates to a proper mental health site.

Story by Matt Pike at Missourinet affiliate KFEQ.