Decades of observation and direct involvement with the County Behavioral Wellness operation have deepened my skepticism (maybe cynicism) about this department. I have long believed that the management of this critical part of the social safety net is more concerned about image and press releases than doing the hard work put on its plate. The article on December 1 extolling the “partnership” between BeWell and the Sheriff and Good Sam only deepens that dark interpretation.

The presence of these representatives for eight hours a week on Wednesday and Friday mid-day seems more for the convenience of the department than to actually effectively intervene and help. In my experience the Sheriff’s Office releases inmates constantly (by law they cannot be held beyond their sentence time, of course). Inmates are often released at night or in the early morning. There are 168 hours in a week, and the jail is open and processing inmates constantly. Unless dramatic changes have occurred, they do not get out in large numbers in midday Wednesday and Friday, however convenient that is for the folks in the photo op.

Please, someone from BeWell, explain what intervention and assistance is available for all the newly released folks. Does BeWell meet them, transport them, and counsel them? Or just give them a bottle of water and a cell phone recharge?


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