Town hall in Owensboro aims to tackle mental health challenges

Town hall in Owensboro aims to tackle mental health challenges
Published: Aug. 30, 2023 at 3:18 PM CDT
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OWENSBORO, Ky. (WFIE) - The Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health is considering the wishes of the people of Owensboro.

Wednesday night, the group hosted a town hall event and listened to the public, considering what they need to focus on and improve.

The Kentucky Judicial Commission on Mental Health’s town hall was an opportunity to sound off on how the judicial system could better serve people who are struggling with their mental health.

To kick off the evening, one man discussed recidivism and urged the commission to consider rehabilitation programs.

“Within the jail system, rehabilitation in the jail system will be key. Even with the detention centers and our young people.”

During the town hall, Deputy Chief Justice Debra Hembree-Lambert was quick to defend the state’s jails.

“Jails are very much focusing on restorative rehabilitation works while the inmates are there,” she says.

One nurse took the opportunity to point out that her patients will backslide in jail because of a lack of treatment.

“I would love to have an answer as to why we can’t get them the proper medicines when they’re incarcerated.”

Another woman who attended the event said she was incarcerated and lost her license.

She can’t get her license back because of forms she can’t get signed.

“One needs to be signed by a psychiatrist, the other needs to be signed by and MD. I have a nurse practitioner I don’t have an MD.”

Circuit Judge Lisa Jones acknowledged a shortage of doctors who could even sign a form like that and directed the woman to state representatives.

“We do need to allow more flexibility in those statutes to allow psychiatrist nurse practitioners to sign off on those forms that the statutes are demanding,” explained Judge Jones.

This is just the first of nine of these town halls that will be held across the state through November 29.