Tent City to Become Rehab Center


Since the infamous Tent City was recently shut down, Sheriff Paul Penzone announced that an air-conditioned space previously apart of the jail will be turned into a facility to help treat those suffering from substance abuse and addiction. Transforming Tent City into a rehabilitation center is apart of an ongoing effort to help keep repeat offenders out of the prison system and will help them live normal, productive lives.

The rehabilitation center will have space for classrooms and places to sleep. Sheriff Paul Penzone recently spoke about the new facility and said, “we want to ensure that [chronic offenders] have an opportunity to be productive, to not return here to this jail. I hope that all those in our community recognize the investment that we are making to become a more holistic Sheriff’s Office.” Penzone hopes to reduce the rate of recidivism and come up with solutions that will get to the root of the problems many repeat offenders face such as drug addiction and mental illness.

There are also plans for a proposal that would include an employment center for inmates, as well as a community corrections center. Both of these announcements quickly followed the retirement of Tent City. Not only will the changes being made help repeat offenders in the long run, it will also reduce spending by almost $5 million each year. Penzone also hopes that the investments being made will decrease crime rates in Arizona.

The rehabilitation inmate program is seven weeks long and will help inmates to identify early trauma and patterns of behavior. These services will benefit many people who most likely do not have the resources to visit specialists on their own. Once the program is over, the inmates will be given resources to help make sure they have opportunities to succeed when they are out in the real world.

Photo by Лечение Наркомании

Posted in Arizona, Drug Crimes, Law Enforcement, Mental Health, Violent Crime | Tagged , , , , |

Mentally Ill, Drug-Addicted Individuals Need Treatment, Not Jail


Our prisons are filled with mentally ill individuals, some of whom were born with disabilities, and others who have been damaged by circumstances and environment. All mentally ill offenders have their own unique conditions and needs, yet all too often they are simply cycled through the criminal justice system. Regardless of the crime committed, many do not receive the treatment they need to overcome or learn to deal with their issues while locked up. What does a mentally ill individual with no support and limited resources do once they are released from jail? Sadly, once they are in the system, they tend to stay trapped in it.

Many states are now looking at different ways of handling these individuals. Treatment, rather than jail time, not only ends up costing states much less, but also gives these individuals who are suffering a second chance- an opportunity to go forward with new knowledge and an ability to make better choices. In Utah, judges are issuing drug sentences with less jail time and more treatment, with hopes of preventing repeat offenses. Officials in Arkansas are looking at diversion programs for treating mentally ill individuals and drug addicted individuals, as opposed to locking them up in an already overcrowded jail.

Here in Arizona, Maricopa County’s psychiatric crisis facilities have more than doubled in the last year. In addition to expansions in the existing centers, including more beds added to a crisis center in Peoria, a new psychiatric emergency center was opened in Mesa. There are about 100 more beds available than there were less than a year ago. It is still not enough, by any means, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

A mentally ill individual who has been accused of a crime needs a criminal defense lawyer with experience in this area. Bernardo Garcia has been representing mentally ill defendants for over 20 years. If you are in Phoenix or the surrounding areas, contact Garcia Law Firm, PLC today regarding your mental health defense needs.

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Posted in Drug Crimes, Mental Health Defenses |