Officials in Indianapolis have cut the ribbon on what Mayor Joe Hogsett’s office calls a first-of-its-kind facility. The Assessment & Intervention Center is designed to divert non-violent, low-level offenders by “providing mental health and addiction assessments and referral to appropriate treatment and community services as an alternative to arrest.”
The facility, which is run by Eskenazi Health, will open to clients on Tuesday. The mayor’s office says the center will provide services including 24/7 referrals and intakes, withdrawal management, skills training, engagement in daily goal development, and referral to long-term and treatment services.
“The opening of the AIC represents several years of work reflecting a transformation in thinking about our criminal justice system,” Hogsett said in a news release. “Our goal is to address rising mental health and addiction needs, and break the cycle of low-level, non-violent offenders trapped in the system largely due to complex social, economic, and health challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated mental illness and substance abuse within our community, and I’m grateful that the AIC will be part of the solution.”
Hogsett’s office says the AIC will “serve individuals with behavioral health or substance use issues in situations where law enforcement is trying to avoid an arrest due to a low-level criminal offense or an involuntary detention to an emergency room for further behavioral health assessment.”
However, the services are completely voluntary and all clients will be required to consent before receiving them. The AIC is currently set to open at a reduced capacity of 30 beds due to the pandemic.
“Our team is proud to be part of this transformative, recovery-oriented model of care to better meet the needs of our community,” said Dr. Ashley Overley, chief executive officer of the Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center. “The AIC will offer support to those who need it most, reduce barriers to accessing a variety of services in our community, and provide a lifeline and path out of the criminal justice system for those struggling in our city.”
Additionally, the building will provide office space and serve as a regional dispatch point for the city’s Mobile Crisis Assistance Team, which sends multidisciplinary teams to respond to certain non-violent emergency calls. It will also host an ambulance and team from Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services.
The AIC is part of the city’s new Community Justice Campus, which will include a new adult detention center, courthouse and sheriff’s office. Those components of the campus are scheduled to open in 2022.