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IDOC Director Withdraws Mental Health Facility Proposal

“This is not to say that the need is any less for corrections; it is to say that a systemic approach is needed for behavioral health services statewide."

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In a bit of a surprise late Monday afternoon, Idaho Department of Correction Director Brent Reinke decided to step back from a proposal—unveiled in a flourish during Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's Jan. 7 State of the State Address—that would have created a 579-bed secure mental health facility at the state prison campus, south of Boise.

“This is not to say that the need is any less for corrections; it is to say that a systemic approach is needed for behavioral health services statewide,” said Reinke. “Improvements to behavioral services, both in Idaho communities and inside state correctional facilities, will be at the heart of this plan.”

Reinke said the proposal triggered a series of questions about operation costs and "other mental and substance-abuse priorities facing the state." The director said while withdrawing the proposal, he wants to work with the Department of Health and Welfare, Idaho courts and the state criminal justice commission in developing a new plan "for addressing broader issues."

“I appreciate Director Reinke’s responsiveness, and I’m grateful that he and [Health and Welfare] Director [Dick] Armstrong are working collaboratively to address our broader priorities as a state,” said Otter. “A secure mental health facility certainly is needed. But such an investment must be considered in the context of our limited resources and our evolving behavioral health environment.”

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