Working to help people on probation and parole - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Working to help people on probation and parole with mental health and substance abuse issues

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CEDAR RAPIDS (KWWL) -

This spring, a residential center for people on parole and probation with mental health and substance abuse issues is set to open in Cedar Rapids. The ANCHOR Center is a first-of-its kind facility in Iowa's Sixth Judicial District.

"This allows us a facility that provides a structure that they might need while also providing the treatment and the correctional supervision," said Malinda Lamb, Clinical Services Director for Iowa's Sixth Judicial District.

The building was built in 2008 but the downturn in the economy meant the facility didn't receive the money it needed to staff the building.

Staff have performed outpatient treatments but the residential side has remained empty.

Now officials say they're back on track and hope to open some of the facility's 26 beds by spring 2014.

"We got to make sure that we open it up in a way that we know we can be successful that we continue to protect the public and the offenders and the population that we serve," said Bruce Vander Sanden, Director of Iowa's Sixth Judicial District.

Most residents will have a roommate. Rooms are designed to hold small groups. Everything that will be done at the center will be viewed as a teaching skill.

"Whether it's interacting with others by playing games or watching TV or in the actual group therapy sessions, individual therapy, everything's kind of a skill building," said Lamb.

Staff will teach the residents social skills, medication management, and symptoms of their illness.

"When individuals are more stable, and when I say stable I mean in regards to mental health, substance abuse as well as health concerns, then they're going to be more successful members of our society," said Lamb.

These services are greatly needed. As of June 2012, 51% of offenders in Iowa prisons had a mental health diagnosis.

Officials hope the ANCHOR Center will be a successful models for the state's other judicial districts.

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