Vanderburgh county commissioners form committee for American Rescue Act funding

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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WEHT) – President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Act, last week, which includes federal funding for local and state governments.

With that, Vanderburgh county is set to receive over 35 million dollars. County commissioners started forming a committee called “Road to Recovery” to determine where the money will go.

On Tuesday, Congregations Acting for Justice and Empowerment or CAJE laid out a plan for the county commissioners that would expand mental health and substance abuse care.

Jason Emmerson, Executive Director of United Caring Services, said they want to build a crisis stabilization unit called the Evansville Care Center.

“And that’s just, you know, divert people who are kind of overwhelmed with intoxication, substance use or mental health issues, away from the emergency department away from emergency medical services away from law enforcement a way from jail,” he said.

“You know, obviously, there are a lot of people in jail because they need to be in jail. But there are there are a significant number of people that we are putting in jail because they have problems like substance abuse or mental problems,” said Tom Bogenschultz.

“They’re not necessarily in the right place. They deal with fatigue and stress on their own. So it’s serving people, you know, who to get them more help they need but it’s also, you know, creating greater public safety for our law enforcement officers,” said Emmerson.

Vanderburgh County Sheriff Dave Wedding was there for support and said, “I have people in my custody that have absolutely no business being in the jail setting. But I’m told time and again, that no one wants them. And they’re too dangerous to themselves or to society, if we let him out on the street.”

“I’ve always been a big supporter of CAJE, their latest request, which will come before council next is for their crisis center. They need help there, they possibly might need a new one. And they certainly need funding for that,” said County Commissioner Ben Shoulders.

As for the overall funding, Shoulders says it will need to be used in full by December of 2024.

(This story was originally published on March 16, 2021)

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