Via The Oklahoman: Philanthropist Sue Ann Arnall intends to donate a 1.6-acre tract downtown for the MAPS 4 Diversion Hub, a gift that could be worth $1.1 million or more.
The Oklahoma City Planning Commission was expected to consider rezoning of the property Thursday. The Diversion Hub is a $17 million project envisioned as a "one-stop shop" bringing together agencies that help low-level offenders avoid deeper entanglement with the criminal justice system. It is one of four MAPS 4 projects with a strong focus on criminal justice reform, and the Arnall Family Foundation has pledged $20 million for an operations fund.
Arnall told The Oklahoman last year that inspiration for the center came from a realization parents' incarceration often leaves children in distress. Families in poverty can be broken due to inability to pay often minor fines and penalties. Services as simple as a bus pass and reminders about court dates can keep individuals out of jail. The Diversion Hub opened in temporary quarters last June at 220 NW 10 St. As the concept evolves, Executive Director Damon Britton said Wednesday, the focus has been on individuals in pretrial proceedings and those at risk of having probation revoked. "We're learning," he said.
The dream is to assemble under one roof agencies to help offenders navigate the criminal justice system in the broadest sense, with mental health, behavioral health and substance abuse services; housing support, and help with job training, employment and retention.
A client qualifying for food stamps, for instance, might apply in the morning at the Diversion Hub. A caseworker could submit the application and have it approved the same day, Britton said.
Austin Mayden of the Arnall Family Foundation said the property suggested for the Diversion Hub meets several key criteria — it is centrally located, close to bus routes and to criminal justice facilities including courts and the county jail. Read more at The Oklahoman.