A ribbon cutting ceremony was held today for a first of its kind facility within the Iowa Department of Corrections. The ANCHOR Center in Cedar Rapids is specifically designed to serve clients with substance abuse and mental health disorders.

The two-million-dollar facility could begin taking patients sometime next Spring. Malinda Lamb, who will serve as the center’s director, says the building has room for 26 residential clients, but will also include outpatient programming.

Lamb says offenders with substance abuse or mental health issues currently seek treatment in the community. "This center will provide those services on site," Lamb explained. The ANCHOR Center could serve as a model for other future facilities in the state. Lamb says the center will meet the treatment needs of the residents, while also providing the security and supervision those clients require.

"We will have everything from basic budgeting skills and social skills all the way up to more specific therapy treatment oriented groups," Lamb said. "For example, dual-diagnosis groups that deal with the interactions of the mental health (patients) and their substance abuse disorders." The 6th Judicial District consists of Linn, Benton, Iowa, Jones and Tama Counties.

Lamb says corrections officials will work closely with other agencies in the community to address all the needs of the people who come to the ANCHOR Center. She says clients need help with their disorders, but many also require assistance in dealing with housing, employment and family issues. It’s believed that up to 36-percent of the Iowa prison inmates released on parole into the correctional services districts have a diagnosed mental health disorder.