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Lee County Corrections Opens New Unit for Mentally Ill

It’s not a typical jail cell…it’s designed to create a soothing environment for those behind bars living with mental illnesses.

On Tuesday, seven inmates at the Lee County Corrections Facility moved into the new unit.

The unit has meditation music playing and light blue walls.

It can hold up to 23 male inmates and it comes with privileges. From having board games and not being in isolation, to proper medication management and the inmates are monitored by a mental health team.

“Everyone that’s part of supervising these individuals are crisis team members,” Sergeant David Velez, Lee County Sheriff’s Office, said.

That means the team members graduated from a program designed by the National Alliance on Mental Illness Program.

This unit isn’t the first of its kind. There are jails across the country already helping inmates living with mental illness get the proper care to reintegrate them back into the community.

“Getting them better in a better place and getting the proper resources to assist them so once they are released from here, whether it’s SalusCare or NAMI so they can stay on track and not get reoffended,” Sergeant Velez said.

Reporting by Brittany Muller