MARQUETTE — The Marquette County Sheriff’s Department, Marquette County and Pathways Community Mental Health are finally launching their Jail Diversion project.
The Lake Superior Community Partnership hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony on Monday to unveil two new jail diversion rooms at the Marquette County Jail, which will be in use starting tonight. The ceremony also marks the beginning of the Crisis Intervention Team.
The goal of the team and the diversion rooms is to avoid putting mentally ill people in jail who may act out due to their under–managed symptoms.
It will work like this: An officer on the road will take a complaint. If it involves someone who may be mentally ill, they officer will call the Marquette County Prosecutor’s office and the prosecutor will decide if the subject is eligible.
They will then call Pathways and an on-call officer, who will sit with the subject in the diversion room until a representative from Pathways is available. The Pathways employee will then analyze the subject and decide if the subject could be diverted from jail.
“It will allow us to support linking people to services that they may need to treat their mental illness rather than having them incarcerated,” said Lynn Johnson, Crisis Services supervisor at Pathways.
“We’re doing something different,” said Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt. “Obviously, what we’ve been doing isn’t working. The jails have been a holding ground for the mentally ill for many years and I believe that the State of Michigan, and the whole country, is starting to see what’s happening. ”
The two holding rooms and the staff is provided by a $345,000 grant through the State of Michigan and Pathways. This is third program of its kind in Michigan and the first in the U.P.