The bottom half of a small basketball court is covered by cheerful yellow paint and speckled with marker doodles of smiling stick figures, flowers and sets of two humps to indicate birds in a sunny sky. That yellow matches stripes on the linoleum floor in the main area set off by columns in cheerful pastels. Numbered doors with small windows lead to residents’ small rooms.
The jail psychiatric unit in downtown Charlotte — known as “McP” — looks like a school, but it’s actually North Carolina’s first behavioral health unit located in a county jail. Inmates, or residents as the sheriff calls them, take daily medications, attend group classes, and participate in therapy with the aim of getting better before returning to the general population in the Mecklenburg County Central Detention Center or being released to the outside world.
The main area of the jail psychiatric unit, with one guard stand in the middle and plenty of space for lounging, watching TV, playing games or doing yoga. In addition to the cell doors seen here, a bathroom area, workout space and a group therapy room complete the unit. Photo credit: Yen Duong
“I feel [being in jail] can cause mental issues because you can’t just come and go as you please anymore,” said guard Melissa Russell, clad in a gray polo with a “Behavioral Health” logo rather than the usual police uniform. “This program is designed to help them work through their issues… It’s to show them different ways to process what they’re feeling and what they’re going through.”
Source: North Carolina Health News