2012 Corrections/Jail Innovatios of the Year Award
Lt. Todd Calkins
Rockwall County, TX
Lt. Todd Calkins, of the Rockwall County Sheriff’s Office, Texas, has been selected as the recipient of the 2012 Corrections/Jail Innovations Award of the Year.
In October 2009 Lt. Todd Calkins was accepted into the National Jail Leadership Command Academy at Sam Houston State University. The purpose of the Academy is to provide training for successful preparation and to develop leadership skills for transition into senior leadership positions within jails. The curriculum required each attendee to identify and represent to the class an issue they had with the operation of their facility. Lt. Calkins’ issue was the lack of mental health service for inmates in the county facility.
After receiving direction, Lt. Calkins contacted the Dallas, Texas chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness. The National Alliance on Mental Illness contacted Dr. Vincent Ramos, a Forensic Psychologist and Chair of the Forensic Psychology Program at Argosy University. Lt. Calkins invited Dr. Ramos to the facility to view his project and the concerns he had regarding the number of inmates with mental illness and the lack of mental health services provided to the jail population.
Initial discussions quickly revealed a shared vision and Dr. Ramos agreed to provide direct services to inmates and to collaborate with jail administrators and health care staff. In February 2010, weekly therapy and counseling services began under the direction of Dr. Ramos. Services are provided to inmates with histories of mental illness and/or addiction and inmates who request mental health services in response to stress, anxiety, depression and/or other mental health problems. This program has greatly reduced the need to utilize hospital emergency psychiatric services and has also led to calmness in the jail atmosphere.
In March 2010, an ad hoc Rockwall County Jail Mental Health Steering Committee was established. Bi-weekly meetings began and Lt. Calkins and Dr. Ramos serve as Co-Chairs of the committee that now includes over thirty members. Lt. Calkins’ initiative quickly evolved into a community based project and the Committee’s vision expanded beyond the jail. The County Commissioner accepted the Committee’s charter and established it as the Rockwall County Behavioral Health Advisory Committee. The Committee now advises the County Commissioners on all matters relating to behavioral health care and continues to work towards developing a comprehensive behavioral health plan for the citizens of Rockwall County.
From one phone call, Lt. Todd Calkins has created a model for other small counties to emulate. He saw a need that was lacking at the facility and found a solution. Armed with options when dealing with the mentally ill, the impact is seen everyday. Detention officers are confident in the additional resource and inmates quickly realize the benefits, creating an more stable, secure and effective environment.
This award is new to NSA. It was created to recognize an individual for their innovative contributions made to their jail or correctional facility. The award is sponsored by ARAMARK Correctional Services.