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The Center’s Pawnee County Jail Program benefits inmates, staff
Shonita Gray
Shionta Gray, The Center’s Community Support Services director
scott king
Pawnee County Sheriff Scott King

It was just a year ago that the Pawnee County Jail started to help fill the gap between people who are incarcerated and their access to mental-health services. And Sheriff Scott King has noticed several benefits to inmates and staff alike.

“Having a registered nurse visit regularly helps us run a more efficient jail, which benefits inmates and staff,” King noted. “The nurse assists inmates with mental-health issues and medication management.

“This is a valuable resource and we have noticed quicker response times for mental- and medical-health needs. I hear positive feedback from staff members because the program helps them with their difficult jobs.” 

The Jail Program has exceeded the sheriff’s expectations “because of the variety of mental-health services now available to inmates. We have the same problems faced by bigger jails and now we can match them with these local resources.”

The program has been available in Barton County since 2022 and further expansion is in the works. There is no cost to the inmate and the program is strictly voluntary.

The Center for Counseling & Consultation started the program after it applied for and received a grant from the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services. The Barton County Health Department also supported the program during its first year. The funds helped pay for staff and other expenses.

King noted he is grateful to The Center for providing access to the Jail Program in Pawnee County.

“The Center has always been a great partner,” he said. “We work together to support those who struggle with mental-health concerns – whether they be inmates or others in our community.

“I appreciate this partnership, which helps people in real-life crises.”

Shionta Gray, Community Support Services Director at The Center, noted that while Marci Klug, RN, provides nursing and case management services, she also has the opportunity to collaborate with the jail liaison.

“Marci communicates with jail personnel about inmates’ needs while they are in jail and find resources for them upon discharge,” Gray said. “The Center recommends to inmates that they follow-up on their concerns after release. We can help with follow-up services.

“One goal is to reduce recidivism and stop the revolving door,” she continued. “The state grant made it possible for us to tackle these issues. We are more than grateful.”

Gray noted she also “appreciates Sheriff King and his staff for allowing us to work with Pawnee County Jail personnel. We have a good working relationship and appreciate their support.”

Plans are in the works to expand the program into Rice County whenever possible. Currently, The Center provides as-needed services in the Rice County Jail.


When the Jail Program started in Barton County, statistics indicated that approximately 35 percent of inmates have some type of mental-health issue. This was determined by using a screening tool.

“By talking with jail personnel and those who are incarcerated, we are supporting people who want services such as case management, therapy and medication,” Gray commented. “We also help with resources such as Medicaid, food stamps, housing and employment when they are released from jail.

“Then we reach out periodically to see if other resources are needed. We’re here to find support in our community. Recidivism may be reduced, while we de-stigmatize mental-health issues and improve quality of life.”

The Center for Counseling & Consultation is a Community Mental Health Center serving Barton, Pawnee, Rice and Stafford counties. Professionally trained personnel offer: individual and group therapy; marriage and family counseling; community-support services; community-based services; psychosocial rehabilitation; peer support; and medication management. The confidential 24/7 crisis hotline number is 800-875-2544.