Horry County inmates with mental health conditions could be required to enroll in assistance program

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – According to police records dating back to 2008, Lucas Standridge has been in and out of jail.

Those records show Standridge, who is originally from Anderson County, was arrested for forgery in 2008, disorderly conduct in 2016 and trespassing in 2020.

After being reported missing in June, he was arrested two more times in July and was accused of starting a fire on Waites Island on July 17. As of Aug. 5, Standridge remains at the J. Reuben Long Detention Center in Horry County after being denied bond for burning lands of another without consent.

When he was reported missing, the Anderson County Sheriff’s Office mentioned Standridge suffers from schizophrenia and bipolar disease.

It brings up the question of how much South Carolina works to assist inmates and others arrested with mental health issues.

Back in January, the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services launched a program to help inmates with their mental health. The program also provided mental wellness resources.

Fifteenth Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson says crimes like disorderly conduct and trespassing are not uncommon for inmates facing mental illnesses.

“You have to be referred into mental health court with a basis from a criminal charge and that’s just what we got right now,” said Richardson.

Richardson said the program would require a person who is arrested to have committed a felony to qualify for assistance.

He added the mental health court process is only for a period of two years.

The person arrested also gets to decide if they want to enroll in the program, but Richardson said he is working with the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon to make mental health court mandatory.

“Right now our program is voluntary, the defendant could easily say hey I’d rather just go to prison than mental health court or drug court,” said Richardson. “One thing that we’ve talked about is when a person violates probation to move them into a mental health or drug court program involuntarily.

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