Safe City Roundtable discusses alternatives to jail for mental i - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Safe City Roundtable discusses alternatives to jail for mental illness and addiction treatment in Louisville

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Top Louisville leaders are brainstorming to find new ideas and take action to help solve the city’s mental illness and addiction problems.

The organization CLOUT, or Citizens of Louisville Organized and United Together, coordinated the first "Safe City Roundtable." The faith-based group works to find solutions to community problems.

“Our hope is that we can make Louisville a safer city for everyone,” said Chris Finzer, a co-chairman of CLOUT.

Local judges, leaders from LMPD, Metro Council, Metro Corrections, Commonwealth and Jefferson County Attorney offices, Centerstone and other organizations were represented Monday. CLOUT hopes all the input will help unify efforts.

“We want a more unified approach to developing solutions for mental health and addiction issues,” Finzer said.

According to CLOUT, people in Louisville with mental illnesses are 16 times more likely to wind up in jail. People with addictions are 39 times more likely. Many at the meeting believe jail is not an appropriate or effective place for treatment.

Part of Monday’s discussion revolved around the newly proposed Living Room project. Centerstone would manage the program, which would provide resources to those needed mental health or addiction treatment.

Finzer said the program would be a safe place where people would “be able to get an assessment, to get some work done to determine what the next step should be in their treatment.”

Metro Council has budgeted $325,000 to jump start the Living Room project.

“It saves lives, and it saves money for the community rather than shunting people into either a very expensive emergency room situation or into jail,” Finzer said.

Members of the roundtable also discussed how to better utilize drug court options, create a LEAD (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion) program and boost CIT (Crisis Intervention Team) training.

No action plans were created Monday. The next meeting will be Aug. 28 to continue brainstorming.

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