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Residents speak out against proposed safety center

12:14 AM, Feb 27, 2013   |    comments
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Several people spoke out Tuesday night in opposition to a safety center in North Knoxville.

They're concerned about the proposed location for the site, off Central Street near the Helen Ross McNabb Center, because they don't want it in their neighborhood.

Tuesday, community members talked with county leaders during a question and answer session. Dozens of people showed up for the meeting.

Knox County Sheriff J.J. Jones says the county needs a place for people with substance abuse issues or mental illness to get treatment instead of going to jail.

"These individuals will be diverted to the safety center where they will stay up to a period of three days where they will deal with mental health professionals and hopefully get them stabilized where we can get them back in the community," said Sheriff J.J. Jones.

Jones says 18 to 25 percent of the people incarcerated in the Knox County Jail are mentally ill, and he says it costs twice as much to keep them behind bars.

The county has not yet approved the plans for the site.

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