Dane County Identifies Site to Accelerate Opening of New Mental Health Crisis Triage Center
March 09, 2023
Ariana Vruwink, 608-267-8823
County Looks to Re-Purpose Former Huber Jail Facility for 24/7 Facility to Treat Mental Health, Addiction
Dane County will be able to move up the opening of a new facility designed to treat those in crisis as a result of a mental health emergency or addiction, County Executive Joe Parisi announced today. Parisi was joined at a news conference by Sheriff Kalvin Barrett to announce the county will look to refurbish and remodel its Huber Detention Center into the new Mental Health Crisis Triage and Restoration Center. Redeveloping this county-owned space will allow Dane County to open the much needed facility at least a year faster than it would take to acquire a privately-owned site and seek necessary zoning/land use approvals.
“As the county saw in our pursuit for a new Homeless Day Resource Center a few years back, siting these vital, much needed services can turn into a challenge that takes years to resolve,” Parisi said. “Repurposing what had been correctional space for a treatment facility that will help keep individuals out of our jail and hospital emergency rooms sends an important message about our priorities.”
The county’s Huber facility was used for decades to house those sentenced to work release by judges. A number of those individuals were moved to downtown jail facilities at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, but since last fall those sentenced to Huber have been part of the Sheriff’s electronic monitoring program, freeing up space needed to house these residents.
“The Dane County Sheriff’s Office has worked hard in recent years to safely reduce our jail population by creating a highly successful electronic monitoring program,” Sheriff Kalvin Barrett said. “It is time to focus our proactive efforts on our community members before they enter the criminal justice system. Jail is not a place for someone experiencing a mental health crisis or substance use disorder, but currently, Dane County is lacking a safe and secure treatment facility. I look forward to partnering with the County Executive to put this plan into action,” Barrett added.
In fall of 2021, Parisi and the County Board announced they were prioritizing funding in the county budget to acquire and develop a Crisis Triage and Restoration Center. County leaders have approved over $14.3 million for acquisition, construction, and to begin operations of the new around-the-clock, 24/7 rehabilitation and stabilization facility. Since then, the county has worked with partners to fine-tune details about services the new Crisis Triage Center will offer. Selecting a site up front will allow Dane County to more effectively proceed at seeking a partner agency to operate the Crisis Triage Center. The county will hold a competitive selection process for prospective operators this year.
The county will look to hire a consultant in the coming weeks to assess the facility and produce a concept plan for its redevelopment. A resolution to approve that contact will follow a county request for proposals to hire the firm that will partner on this consulting work.
“We know time is of the essence to keep this high priority project on track,” Parisi said. “The new Crisis Triage Center will help connect individuals with treatment they need and out of our criminal justice system. When paired with other county-led mental health initiatives such as the Behavioral Health Resource Center, the work we are doing is the template for how a community cares for its own.”