NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Nashville-Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall announced the new Davidson County Sheriff’s Office Behavioral Care Center, or BCC, will open to residents September 15.
Construction for the BCC began two years ago and will serve as an alternative to jail for mentally ill arrestees. The 60-bed center will accommodate both men and women. The center will begin with a small group of residents before moving to full capacity.
“Years ago, I took a special interest in this segment of our population and felt it was imperative we do more to decriminalize their illness,” Sheriff Hall said. “The criminal justice system, as a whole, is not effective when dealing with mental illness. It is our responsibility as community leaders to stop just talking about the issue and take bold steps in seeking a solution.”
In 2015, Sheriff Hall reallocated funds to go towards the BCC while developing plans for the Downtown Detention Center.
The concept of the BCC is to divert arrestees with qualifying charges and who also suffer from mid-to-low-level mental illness. Charges will be expunged if the resident completes his or her assigned treatment plan. A goal of the program is to remove the collateral damage associated with criminal arrests such as fines, court fees, mounting criminal histories, and stigmas linked to arrest. Finally, and maybe the most important aspect of the BCC, release planning begins immediately. It includes proper follow-up care and, for the first time, those who suffer from mental illness will not be released to the streets alone.
Training is currently underway for staff. According to Sheriff Hall, around 30% of Metro’s current jail population suffers from mental illness.
The BCC sits adjacent to the new Downtown Detention Center and will share services, such as food and laundry.