Skip to content

Board approves mental health assessment facility


Will convert space at Twin Towers jail

Hoping to relieve the overload of seriously mentally ill inmates in its jail system, the Board of Supervisors this week authorized the conversion of space at the Twin Towers downtown jail into a 16-bed unit to evaluate and treat inmates suffering from “acute mental health illness.”

The facility, dubbed an Acute Intervention Module, will be designated to treat, evaluate and assess inmates who are determined to be a danger to themselves and others, according to a motion introduced by Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Janice Hahn.

It will “provide short term, intensive care, evaluation and treatment and further assessment,” according to the motion. After inmates are stabilized and assessed, staff will determine discharge steps — possibly to a residential treatment facility or continued incarceration. The proposed unit is a key element of a settlement agreement between the state Department of Justice and the county over conditions in the jails, the motion states.

Since Twin Towers opened in 1997, the facility has become the largest de facto mental health facility in the nation, according to the motion. Nearly 6,800 of the jail system’s inmates are said to have mental health issues, according to recent county reports. The proposed facility will be staffed by personnel screened by the state Department of Health Care personnel.

According to the motion, after an initial assessment of the success of the 16-bed facility, the county will seek approval to expand and add 32 more beds.