Joy Gensler said she needs the all the help she can get as she prepares to leave the Lucas County jail and deal with her opioid addiction.
Ms. Gensler, 26, who was in jail with a pending robbery charge, walked around the recreation area of the Lucas County jail to speak to representatives from health insurance and behavioral health providers.
For several hours Thursday evening, she and other female inmates at the Lucas County jail learned about various health and social services available to them once they are released to help them get back on their feet.
“I want to get better, I have children.Honestly, I kind of need to stop everywhere,” Ms. Gensler said, surveying the available booths.
Incarcerated women are often overlooked with regard to services in a Lucas County jail population that is overwhelmingly male, said Joy Marshall, a counselor at the jail.
“A lot of them get out and they don't know which direction to go, and so they go back to what they know,” Ms. Marshall said. “We want to give them options.”
Rebecca Kinsinger, center, visits one of the tables at a health fair for incarcerated women at the Lucas County Jail in Toledo. Several local agencies were on hand to help connect women to mental and physical health services for care once they are released.
Among the booths were representatives from the YWCA Northwest Ohio’s domestic violence and rape crisis services; insurance providers Toledo/Lucas County CareNet and Buckeye Health; Toledo-Lucas County Health Department; mental and behavioral health providers, and housing organizations.
“We need more support systems,” Ms. Gensler said. “I couldn’t find the support. As sad as it is, it took me coming to the Lucas County jail to be able to get the help I really need.”
About 30 to 40 women are currently held in the jail, out of a population that has a recommended capacity of about 400. The health fair was a regular practice several years ago, but fell by the wayside before returning this year. Thursday’s event also provided a meal and toiletry samples for attendees.
“The more we can empower them, we can find out what their needs are,” said Corrections Officer Lisa Shumpert. “Speaking from a woman's point of view, we know what we would need,” such as immediate needs like housing, food, and mental health resources.
“You can't care for them and help them grow without addressing those needs first,” she said.
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