H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Apr 8, 2013 11:38 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

CMC building new mental health facility

The California Men's Colony in San Luis Obispo is finishing work on a $23 million Mental Health Treatment Facility.

It's set to open in three months.

Over the past decade, CMC has been under direct oversight by federal regulators. In 2003, it was found to be unfit for medical and mental healthcare.

"They said we need to find ways to bring our level of care up to a constitutional level," said Lt. Robert Furster of the California Men's Colony. "We do have a lot of inmates in our mental health system throughout the state of California, so it's necessary for us to build stuff like this so we can treat it."

Furster said as many as 25% of the inmates at CMC need access to mental health treatment.

"It could be either that they're suicidal, self-harm, or their mental illness has deteriorated to such a point to where they're a danger to others," he said.

According to Furster, the facility will take in inmates from any prison in the state in need of this type of care. He said the facility will be well-equipped with 50 beds and teams of psychiatrists, nurses, therapists, and psychologists.

"You may have an inmate come in and get the mental health treatment he needs, then he goes back into society where he understands his mental health illness, he gets medication, and he doesn't reoffend," said Furster. "Ultimately, that's less cost on law enforcement, less cost on the courts, and less cost on correction, and a safer public."

Once complete, the facility will also bring in 150 permanent jobs.

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