First site at Community Justice Center to open Tuesday

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INDIANAPOLIS– The first site of the $570 million Community Justice Center in the eastside community of Twin Aire opens Tuesday.

The Assessment and Intervention Center is intended to provide temporary housing and services to those experiencing emergency homelessness, mental health or addiction crises.

“I do believe that we are offering a meaningful new and different resource that hasn’t been here before that I hope people will utilize,” said Dr. Ashley Overly, CEO of Eskenazi Mental Health Center.

The Center has a 60-bed capacity, though COVID-19 restrictions have limited occupancy to half that total for the time being.

Upon arrival, clients will be assessed during an in-take process, have their clothing baked to kill bed begs, be issued fresh clothes, assigned a bunk for their three-to-five day stay and meet with licensed mental health professionals and peer recovery specialists to help them through withdrawal, mental health counseling, vocational assessment or housing referral.

“No one has just one problem usually,” said Dr. Overly. “It can be overwhelming for people, it can be daunting to want to engage in treatment. It takes a lot of motivation and commitment to find a new place, make new relationships with a treatment team.”

The goal of the Center is to take the burden off the shoulders of IMPD, the Marion County Jail and the Eskenazi Emergency Department in caring for persons who may be struggling with issues but don’t fall into criminal or medical categories.

“I think for a very long time officers have always looked for another alternative to arrest for low level misdemeanors or an alternative to immediate detentions and taking someone to the hospital,” said Major Catherine Cummings of IMPD. “Now we can ask that person, ‘Do you want to go to the AIC?’ We can make arrangements to get them transported to the AIC here, where they can get connected to the resources that they need and the treatment that they need and not go to jail.”

In the past, the Marion County Sheriff has spent an estimated $8 million annually caring for the 40% of the Jail population struggling with mental health and behavioral issues.

The new Courthouse, Marion County Sheriffs Office and Adult Detention Center at the CJC should be open in early 2022.

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