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More Services in Lee, Des Moines County Jails

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There is now a trained professional working inside the Lee and Des Moines County jails to help inmates avoid repeat trips to jail.

Law enforcement officers and mental health care professionals in the two counties have been working for several months on a "jail diversion" plan.

The goals are to make sure inmates with mental health care needs are getting the proper services and to make sure inmates have a plan to help them stay out of jail.

The result of the discussions was the hiring of Kirstin Kramer as the Community Transition Coordinator.  She is an employee of the Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commision who contracts with the two counties.

Kramer has been assessing each inmate in the two jails to determine what type of counseling services will be introduced as none are currently available.

"It is basically assessing the various risks, prioritizing those risks and then treating them based on those risks," said Kramer.  "So the individuals that present with more risks and the more serious risks, will get more individual time whereas the ones with fewer risks or less serious risks will have more group (sessions)."

Kramer hopes to add a GED program and a workforce development training program in each facility in the very near future.

She says every inmate will eventually have a plan to remain out of jail, which will include information about health care and probationary services.

She says hers is a unique position in Iowa, so she expects other cities and counties to closely watch the program.

Jason Parrott is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.