Fairbanks received good news on Monday when the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority announced that a grant has been awarded to Tanana Chiefs Conference to review our area’s behavioral health needs. This puts us one step closer to possibly opening a much needed sobering center.
Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority President and CEO Jeff Jessee said, “It will also help the community continue to have a more formalized way of knowing what the community needs are. The hope is to open a sobering center, a safe and staffed location for people to sleep off their alcohol intoxication.” Currently some people end up at the hospital while others are taken to the Fairbanks Correctional Center.
Unfortunately, there have been some deaths in correctional facilities where incapacitated persons can be held for up to 12 hours. Often such persons have committed no crime.
Mayor Eberhart stated, “That (taking a person to jail for sleep off) has a lot of problems. There have been some deaths in custody. It’s not the best way to treat the problem. This is a need of the community.”
It has been reported that about 30 percent of admissions at Fairbanks Correctional Center are intoxicated persons in custody. A sobering or sleep off center would be a great asset to our community in terms of helping a vulnerable population and improving public safety.
The City of Fairbanks, Tanana Chiefs Conference, Fairbanks Native Association and the Fairbanks Memorial Hospital Foundation have been meeting and TCC submitted the grant application on behalf of the group.