New mental health facility could pose alternative to jail for offenders in need

A person in the middle of a mental health crisis can be unpredictable, and if they commit a crime or cause a disturbance, Spokane police will take them to jail.

Soon, officers will have another choice.

Low level offenders could have the option of going to a mental health stabilization center to get treatment and help from professionals.

It’s a facility that could end up saving taxpayers money.

People can’t be forced to go there- it’s all voluntary- but if they complete treatment, their charges could be dismissed. The City of Spokane believes this will help keep more people out of jail, as well as emergency rooms.

Whether it’s drugs or a mental health condition out of their control, Spokane police deal with unpredictable populations every day. People who are disruptive or commit a crime often end up in jail, then released.

That’s a revolving door the city and county are hoping to change.

Now, a county-owned garage just might be the solution.

Near the end of 2020, the space will become a mental health stabilization facility, with 16 beds and space for professionals to treat some of Spokane’s most vulnerable citizens.

People who commit low-level crimes and show signs of mental health issues will have the choice to go there instead of jail.

If they complete their treatment, their charges could be dismissed.

The multi-million dollar facility is being funded by several state agencies and local governments. City officials believe it will save taxpayers money by keeping people out of jail and emergency rooms.