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Diverting Defendants to Treatment

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Published on May 7, 2019

Diverting Defendants to Treatment: Model Pretrial Jail Programming for Withdrawal Management and Opioid Medication Assisted Treatment

Over the last decade, hundreds of jails and prisons across the country have pioneered medication-assisted treatment for individuals with opioid use disorders. Most of these programs are limited to sentenced offenders. Many of these programs receive federal RSAT funding. These programs generally do not serve the many jail detainees held relatively briefly pending trial or case resolution. In the following video, we focus on programs that introduce substance abuse counseling and medication-assisted treatment for detainee populations. The innovative pretrial programs in the Essex County Sheriff’s Department in Massachusetts and the Louisville Metro Department of Corrections in Kentucky not only introduce medication-assisted treatment to detainees to promote community sentences that will prevent their return to jail, but also address another major challenge facing jails across this country, detoxification. Both Essex and Louisville provide standard of care safe withdrawal management for the increasing number of individuals who enter jail under the influence of opioids, alcohol, benzodiazepines or other substances. It is estimated that 2,464,225 jail inmates in 2016 underwent detoxification upon entering. That’s nearly 81% of all opioid detoxifications countrywide which makes jails the largest detoxification centers in America. In Essex, the jail utilizes participants in its RSAT program, which it calls “TRAC,” to mentor those in its pretrial program. In Louisville, the pretrial and sentenced populations are housed together in its RSAT program.

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