Treatment Solutions in Prisons and Jails Assist Police
Nearly 78 percent of the more than 24,000 inmates in state custody meet the clinical criteria for a substance-use disorder. The majority of these individuals will complete their sentences soon and return to society.
Unfortunately, some will continue to have encounters with law enforcement.
My previous column discussed the importance of strong pre-arrest diversion initiatives that law enforcement agencies are developing to combat the crisis of substance abuse and mental health.
I also want to update you on the efforts underway in correctional settings. We believe these programs will have a significant – and positive – impact on policing in the coming decade.
When my team came to the Justice and Safety Cabinet in late 2015, we resolved to make Kentucky a national model for substance-abuse programing.
At the Department of Corrections, we’ve redoubled our efforts to overhaul existing treatment programs. Treatment plans are now tailored to individuals, with an emphasis on successful reentry into the community, and our programs incorporate sober housing, employment and transportation components to help those leaving prison get back on their feet.
We are taking steps to involve family, social service clinicians, peer-support groups and faith-based organizations in the treatment process, while expanding the system to offer additional tools and options for clinicians and inmates.
We’ve also revamped the Reentry Division, synchronizing the treatment, reentry, and probation and parole process to ensure that individuals reentering society are provided with a system that supports sober living.
Much of our work has focused on strengthening medically-assisted treatment options, specifically the use of injectable naltrexone. Once a person has detoxed, the medication helps ease the stranglehold of opioid dependence by blocking the effects on the patient’s brain receptors.
In the meantime, we are demanding more from county jails, requiring them to provide naltrexone injections if they want to receive state funds for substance-use disorder programs. Many local jails have already developed new, innovative programs of their own, particularly in Simpson, Christian, Marion and Kenton counties.
The Kenton County Detention Center, for example, places inmates on a highly-structured routine that incorporates a variety of substance-use disorder treatment methods, including psychotherapy and a traditional 12-step method recovery program. Inmates are then offered an injection of naltrexone at the end of their sentence and an opportunity to come back once a month for follow-up treatments.
Innovative treatment options can reduce recidivism and improve public safety by ensuring that those exiting the criminal justice system receive the tools and support they need to reenter society. That means fewer people returning to the streets in the throes of addiction – and fewer encounters with police.