New drug treatment center opens in Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

The hope is by expanding drug treatment and mental health counseling, it will actually reduce crime.

A ribbon cutting ceremony officially opened Fresno's newest substance abuse treatment facility. The First Street Center is seen as an alternative to incarceration for some.

First Street Center Program Director Todd Blancett said, "Definitely better to be here than in jail because we are able to treat the underlying conditions the person had to begin with. In addition, we're teaching them some life skills."

The center is run by turning point, and funded through Fresno County by AB109, the statewide program aimed at reducing crime and the jail and prison population.

Angie Mitchell said, "The goal is to keep people out of jail, to reunited clients back to their families an overall get them back to society where they are productive citizens."

While most of the AB109 or realignment funds to Fresno County are going to expand jail capacity, county probation Chief Linda Penner says putting some of the money toward programs like this will help.

Penner said, "It has to be a two pronged approach. We absolutely have to have meaningful and ample beds in our jail to hold the bad guys who need to be there. With all that said, there are a number of people that will disassociate themselves from criminal behavior if we have a treatment program they can go into and do the right thing."

Fresno County Sheriff Margaret Mims supports the effort to find alternatives like this, which are less expensive than building more jails.

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