*CORRECTION: The contract with New Horizons is for the Muscogee County Prison.

COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – Columbus City Council has approved additional funding for mental health services at the Muscogee County Prison.

Muscogee County Sherriff, Greg Countryman has always been transparent on the magnitude of inmates in the Muscogee County Jail that struggle with mental health. This addition will not solve that issue but will impact the prison. The City of Columbus has selected a one year contract with New Horizons Behavioral Health, with the prison.

“Jails and prisons are the largest mental health facilities in the whole state.”

Greg Countryman, Muscogee County Sheriff

Following the approval from council, New Horizons will now make bi-monthly visits to the Muscogee County Prison. New Horizons will now provide consultations and contract administration in the amount of $500.00 per month.

“Then we have deputies and correctional officers that have to care for this individual. That have to care for this person’s physical needs, his medical needs, his mental health needs. “

Greg Countryman, Muscogee County Sheriff

There will also be access available to employees at the prison. The nursing staff will be able to access New Horizons on a need basis, through phone consultations.

In the jail, Sheriff Countryman says the mental health issues within county jails come at a heavy cost to taxpayers.

“A person can be in jail for 10 days, but if the citizens are spending 10-thousand dollars on this person, that’s a burden to the taxpayer and to the local taxpayer. That doesn’t come out of the state budget, that’s a local budget issue.”

Greg Countryman, Muscogee County Sheriff

Countryman says we need to address this issue on the front end so its is not an additional burden to taxpayers on the back end. The sheriff says, with every budget, he is working to implement more mental health training for his deputies.