The Tent City jail is officially closed, and in its place, Maricopa County is expanding an innovative program to reduce the number of repeat offenders by addressing their substance abuse and mental health issues.
The air-conditioned dayroom where Tent City inmates once spent time is now housing and classroom space for participants in MOSAIC, an evidence-based, seven-week program serving the moderate to high risk population. MOSAIC will be expanded from 500 to at least 750 participants.
MOSAIC is based on a growing body of research that shows people with substance dependency are extremely likely to have been exposed to trauma-- the rate is 95% for women and nearly that high for men. MOSAIC classes teach participants to become aware of the emotional issues brought on by the trauma, and give them skills they can turn to instead of a substance. The program, run by Correctional Health Services (CHS), has become an important tool in the county's comprehensive approach to combating the opioid crisis. At one point this summer, more than 900 Maricopa County inmates admitted onoing opioid use prior to being jailed.
“I am a strong supporter of smart justice initiatives like MOSAIC that help us rethink our approach to incarceration,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Denny Barney. “Reducing the number of repeat offenders is good for public safety and for taxpayers. Expanding MOSAIC is a good step in that direction.”
Participants are connected with community resources after release so they can continue their recover. This decreases the chances they will return to jail.
“Half of the inmates coming into our jails annually – that’s 50,000 people – are back for a second or third time,” said Sheriff Paul Penzone. “MOSAIC breaks that cycle by dealing with their drug abuse and helping them through the trauma that led to a life of crime. A greatly expanded MOSAIC program will help us lower the crime rate, save money in detention housing, and transform inmates into productive citizens who go on to build stronger communities.”
MOSAIC is an extension of the ALPHA program started by the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office. It launched in January 2017. CHS will track recidivism rates and adjust the curriculum if needed. Preliminary data is promising.
“Going through MOSAIC is a life-changing experience for many participants and I am thrilled the Sheriff’s Office has given us the opportunity to expand a proven, evidence-based program to serve an additional 250 people,” said Dr. Dawn Noggle, Mental Health Director with CHS. “Using this space to teach people to deal with their substance abuse and mental health issues will do more to reduce recidivism in this county than a jail full of tents ever did.”
Go inside the classrooms of MOSAIC to see how breakthroughs are happening and lives are being transformed.
Learn about additional ways that Maricopa County is addressing the opioid crisis.