Inmates with severe mental illness get specialized care at new facility
EASTON, Pa. — A housing facility for inmates with mental illness now is open in Northampton County.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Tuesday for the outpatient restoration long-term structured residence, to be called the Shiloh Restoration Center.
- A housing facility for inmates with severe mental illness now is open in Northampton County
- Shiloh Restoration Center will have eight beds and provide mental and behavioral health support
- The eight-bed unit is on Canal Street in Easton
“People who have severe mental illness who are waiting for their day in court, they don't have to be in prison, they can come here and get treatment,” County Executive Lamont McClure said.
The project was supposed to be completed in 2019, but the pandemic delayed the opening.
McClure partnered with the Northampton County Department of Human Services, Greater Shiloh Church, COMHAR, the Office of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services (OMHSAS) and other entities to bring the eight-bed secure facility to fruition.
“Northampton County Prison does a good job working with people with serious mental illness, but it's not what the prison is designed for,” McClure said.
“This facility is designed to have folks be residents here who have serious mental illness and who are waiting for their day in court, because, unfortunately, sometimes people with serious mental illness are alleged to have committed crimes or have committed crimes.”
Therapeutic, psychosocial interventions
The restoration residence on Canal Street in Easton and will offer therapeutic and psychosocial interventions and group activities, and will have a psychiatrist on site.
“It’s so important because you do have individuals who have these serious mental illnesses and have been in jail for a very long time."Trapeda Mayson, chief operating officer of COMHAR
“What we'll be doing in this environment is working with them, working on competency restoration," said Trapeda Mayson, chief operating officer of COMHAR, a mental health company that will staff and run the program 24/7
"But not only that, also working with them on life skills, general goals, just how the individual can manage their mental illness, as well as contribute to society in a positive way.”
Mayson said her staff is trained in mental and behavioral health and many of them have a forensic background.
“It’s so important because you do have individuals who have these serious mental illnesses and have been in jail for a very long time," Mayson said.
"Who are not able to both manage whatever the process they need to go through, through the criminal justice system as well as their mental illness, so a place that will be able to get them and help them maintain some type of stability, to be able to maybe understand their sentencing, understand the next step in their healing process.
"So a space like this is really key for that."
'A space where people can be uplifted'
Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure said the project cost about $2 million and the building is owned by Greater Shiloh Church, where Phil Davis is pastor.
"So this whole space will be a space where people can, I think, be uplifted."Pastor Phil Davis of Greater Shiloh Church
Davis said his congregation is heavily involved in charitable work around the community. Davis pointed out that the outpatient restoration long-term structured residence is neighboring another project on which the congregation worked called the Nehemiah house, which is a transitional home for men coming out of prison and rehab.
“We [also] have an application in with the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency to build 60 units of affordable housing right across the street," Davis said.
"So this whole space will be a space where people can, I think, be uplifted."