BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Some of the top officials in Baton Rouge spoke at Press Club on Monday about the proposed mental health facility in Baton Rouge.
Voters will decide on December 8 if they want to pay a $1.5 million property tax for ten years to fund the center. District Attorney Hillar Moore, Coroner Dr. Beau Clark, and Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul spoke in favor of the project. Moore says a majority of the inmates in jail have mental health issues.
“Most of the criminal offenses that we see, by and large, are criminal offenses against their family, their neighbor, someone that knows them,” Moore said. “Someone who really does not want them incarcerated, but wants the issue addressed, wants their problems addressed.”
Dr. Clark said it doesn’t make sense for people to spend time in jail if they’re not going to get the treatment they need. “Nobody in this room, if you were having a heart attack or a stroke today, would call 9-1-1 and say take me to the jail so that I could be treated,” Clark said. “No, you would say take me to the appropriate medical facility, because that is what’s appropriate. And that’s what we need to start doing with our mental health population.”
Officials also addressed some of the concerns with the project. They said initially there may be a large influx of patients, and some people will have to be diverted to the jail or hospital until they can give them the appropriate treatment. They will start with thirty beds and 45 caregivers. They also said they are a little concerned about low voter turnout having a negative impact on the outcome.