Mental health services center to open next year as first facility at justice center

A mental health services and addiction-treatment center planned for the city’s new Community Justice Campus will open years ahead of the new jail and courthouse facilities, Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett announced Wednesday.

The Assessment and Intervention Center, which will serve individuals struggling with mental health and addiction problems, is expected to open in fall 2020.

The $572 million Criminal Justice Center, which will include myriad city services and law enforcement functions currently housed in the City-County Building and Market East District, is slated to open in 2022 in the Twin Aire neighborhood southeast of downtown on the site of the former Citizens Energy coke plant.

Hogsett’s administration is describing the new treatment center, to be operated by the Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County, as the first of its kind in the state.

Low-level, nonviolent offenders struggling with addiction or mental illness will be sent to the center for treatment rather than spending time in jail. The hope is that providing such services will reduce recidivism and jail overcrowding while addressing some of the root causes of crime.

“As we work to shape a system that prioritizes people over prisoners, the AIC will provide a pathway from criminal justice involvement to treatment and social services,” Hogsett said in a written statement. “Together on this site, we’re building a modern justice campus for our entire community — one that repurposes a formerly industrial site and revitalizes a long-underserved neighborhood, all while keeping those who don’t belong in jail, out.”

About 30% to 40% of Marion County inmates have been diagnosed with a mental illness and 75% to 85% are struggling with addiction, the city said.

The center, which will serve individuals even if they haven’t been arrested, will offer short-term detoxification, behavioral health treatment, access to social services, referrals to long-term treatment programs and direct connections to wraparound care service providers.

“Indiana is facing an addiction crisis, and our jails and courthouses are often ground zero,” Indiana Executive Director of Drug Prevention, Treatment, and Enforcement Jim McClelland said in written comments. “We have to combat this issue on all fronts, and I applaud the city of Indianapolis for its leadership to help identify those suffering and connect them with the treatment they need.”

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