Faith in Indiana prays for budget inclusion of jail-diversion for mentally ill

By Lisa Esquivel Long | (Kendallvill, Ind.)
Nov 8, 2019

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Four current or former Fort Wayne pastors and three other members of Faith in Indiana held a prayer circle before Allen County Council’s Oct. 17 meeting.

[They held the pray-in to] urge President Tom Harris to follow thru on his commitment to include at least $200,000 in the 2020 Budget to pilot proven programs to divert the mentally ill and addicted to treatment, instead of jail.

“As people of faith we are bound to the belief that each person is made in the divine image. We are called to heal not Imprison” said Rev. Kenneth Christmon, Faith in Allen County Pastor of Turner Chapel AME. “Surely, President Harris and the Council can find it in their hearts to dedicate a portion of the $20 Million surplus to make sure people suffering from mental illness and addiction receive treatment to recover and remain with their families – not fill our county jail.”

The ‘Pray-in for Healing’, hosted by the Allen County Chapter of Faith in Indiana, follows the September 21 ‘Treatment not Incarceration Town Hall where 140 community members directly impacted by skyrocketing incarceration and the opioid crisis presented proven strategies – like the ‘Mobile Crisis Assistance Teams’– piloted last year in Indianapolis that led to dramatic drops in incarnation while connecting people to the services they need to address the underlying mental illness and addiction leading to encounters with law enforcement. Both President Harris and Sheriff David Gladeuix attended the town hall and committed to work with Faith in Indiana to ensure the funding is in place to launch a similar strategy in 2020.

“When my 18-year old son had a nervous breakdown, the police showed up and he ended up 6 years in prison. Unfortunately, his story is one of thousands in our county”explained Nicole Gaunt, Faith in Indiana leader at the September Town Hall. “We are praying the council exhibits bold moral leadership by investing in proven diversion strategies that treat people like human beings and stop the jails revolving door.”

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Treatment Not Jails poster