Generations is ending its free mental health and substance abuse services at Warren County Jail on Dec. 31.
Since mid-February, the business has offered free counseling sessions to inmates every Friday. Almost 300 inmates have received services. To increase the effort to full time, commissioners approved a 2019-20 fiscal year budget that included $50,000 to hire a counselor. However, no detectable steps have been made in that direction.
Commissioner Joseph Stotts made the announcement for Generations during Monday night’s commission meeting. He then voiced criticism for County Executive Jimmy Haley’s lack of progress in hiring someone and lack of communication when it comes to where that process stands.
“I feel that (Sheriff Tommy Myers) and I share the same ideas and are on the same page in the direction that the county should take on this issue,” said Stotts. “However, it is also my opinion that the county executive’s office has other plans. None of which I know nothing about and have not been consulted about in any way, shape or form. There are lives to be saved and in my opinion, we are wasting time. Let’s get this done.”
Haley made no comment. However, in his December report to commissioners, he stated that the counselor would be considered contract labor – not an employee of the county – and a bidding process undertaken once a request for proposals (RFP) is written.
This is not the first time Stotts has expressed frustration about lack of transparency. In July, he and Haley exchanged words during a Health and Welfare Committee meeting when Stotts asked how many individuals Haley had interviewed to fill an open director position. Haley refused to provide a specific number.
“I’ve asked you four times before this meeting today how many people have you interviewed and you’ve never answered. Not one time,” said Stotts.
Haley replied, “I’ve said several. Do you want seven? Do you want six?”
As far as Generation’s counseling services, Stotts stated, “We feel that a strong positive impact has been made. We are very grateful to have been involved in the lives of these individuals and for the opportunity. We feel that working relationships have been established with jail staff, lives were changed and hopefully saved. We are now making the decision to step aside and allow the county to make a decision in proceeding with the $50,000 line item that was passed in the budget for a counselor over six months ago.”
By the information provided, up to 288 inmates received counseling sessions at an estimated $20,000 in free services.
In Haley’s December report to commissioners, he stated that counseling services would be contract labor and a bidding process is required for professional service.