Up-front jail screening for mental health and substance abuse stressed by state committee

SALT LAKE CITY — Intensive up-front screening for mental health and substance abuse problems has been identified as the top priority in a state examination of county jails.

The state launched a similar screening effort under 2016’s Justice Reinvestment Initiative, but the money has dried up.

“The funding isn’t really there anymore, so the jails wouldn’t be able to do this if we recommend it,” said Mary Lou Emerson, a state official coordinating the study into how Utah jails handle substance-using inmates.