Inmate Mental Health Services

To prevent or mitigate a mental health crisis, the Pennington County Jail provides inmates with twenty-four hour emergency mental health services.

  • Intake screening and review for mental health concerns; 
  • Evaluation for detainees identified as a suicide risk; 
  • Crisis intervention, management, and counseling to include coping strategies; 
  • Medical referrals; 
  • Proper care or transfer of detainees identified as mentally ill or suicidal; 
  • Initiate and assist emergency committals when appropriate; 
  • Assess inmates for removal from suicide watch or identify other action plans; 
  • Develop plans and direction for correctional staff working with inmates difficult to manage; 
  • Provide on-call crisis intervention; 
  • Provide staff training for suicide prevention and mentally ill inmates; 
  • Provide insight for programs targeting behavior management and mental illness; and 
  • Assist Jail staff and Health & Human Services to link detainees with community services upon release. 


Pennington County Jail conducts a mental health screening upon admission and a post admission mental health assessment of all inmates during the 14-day physical. Inmates who are found to be suffering from serious mental illness or developmental disabilities are referred for care.

The Pennington County Sheriff’s Office employs mental health counselors to address the mental health needs at the Pennington County Jail. Mental health staff assess each inmate that is placed on suicide watch within 24 business hours in order to determine their risk of suicide and decide appropriate and safe housing options. Mental health counselors continue to assess inmates on suicide watch weekly until they are removed from suicide watch.

Mental health counselors provide inmates with information on community resources to assist them when they are released and with self-help resources to improve their coping skills while in our facility. Mental health counselors review the mental health requests and referrals daily to provide counseling services that are available for crisis and emergency situations. The focus is to provide brief services for individuals with immediate needs such as the recent death of a close family member or partner, recent physical or sexual trauma, thoughts of suicide or self-harm, or severe mental health symptoms.

Mental health counselors meet and assess the inmates who have been identified with a severe mental illness and refer them to the psych provider as needed for medication management. Mental health counselors meet each week with the inmates who are classified to restrictive housing (Administrative Segregation, Protective Custody, & Involuntary Protective Custody) and determine the need for follow up assessments as well as to make recommendations at the weekly Classification Committee meeting regarding housing.